Sunday, 9 February 2020

The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel

As Told by an Idiot and Theatre Royal Plymouth production
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel
Created by Told by an Idiot
Written and directed by Paul Hunter

Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 February
 Press Night: Tuesday 25 February, 7.45pm
 The STUDIO, Birmingham Repertory Theatre

Jerone Marsh-Reid, Amalia Vitale, Nick Haverson_
Charlie & Stan Photo credit Manuel Harlan

The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel looksat an unknown period in comic history when two maverick imaginations collided for a brief time. Playing fast and loose with the facts, and performed in Told by an Idiot’s trademark visual style, the show is no nostalgic bio-drama, but a hilarious and deeplymoving homage to two English men who changed the world of comedy forever. The show, which comes to Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 25 – 29 February, includes an original piano score played live each night, composed by MOBO Award-winner Zoe Rahman.
In 1910, the unknown Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel set sail for New York as part of Fred Karno's famous music hall troupe. They shared a cabin and then spent two years touring NorthAmerica, with Stan as Charlie’s understudy. Stan returned home, later finding success with his soulmate Oliver Hardy. Charlie developed his Little Tramp character and within five years became one of the most famous figures in the world. 
In Charlie Chaplin’s highly detailed autobiography Stan Laurel is never mentioned. Stan talked about Charlie all his life.
Writer and director Paul Hunter said:
“At Told by an Idiot we have often been fascinated by the deconstruction of an iconic figure and the idea of creating a ‘true fantasy’ has always appealed to us. As a company who has consistently sought to inhabit the space between laughter and pain, we were intrigued to uncover a hidden and poignantchapter of comedy history. In some ways we set out to create a comically unreliable tribute to two extraordinary artists. We were determined to value fiction over fact, fantasy over reality, and shine a very unusual light on a pair of show business legends.”
The cast includes Jerone Marsh-Reid as Stan Laurel, Amalia Vitale as Charlie Chaplin with other parts played by Sara Alexanderand Nick Haverson.
Design is by Ioana Curelea, winner of the inaugural Naomi Wilkinson Award – an award established by Told by an Idiot to recognise a unique female visual imagination in memory of visionary designer Naomi Wilkinson, a key part of the company’s history, who designedmany of Told by an Idiot’s landmark productions. Supported by the Charles Mason and Naomi Wilkinson Foundation, the company invited theatre design courses across the UK to submit recent design graduates with an inventive approach to their practice for theaward, the prize being the opportunity to develop their craft in collaboration with Told by an Idiot, gain industry mentoring from established designers, and to be employed to design The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel.
Mercury Prize-nominated and MOBO award-winning musician Zoe Rahman composes the original music for the production, with song arrangement by Sophie Cotton. Jos Houben (founding memberand long-term collaborator of Complicité and The Right Size) is Physical Comedy Consultant, with Dance Choreography by Nuna Sandy for ZooNation: The Kate Prince Company. Lighting Design is by Aideen Malone.
The events in this play are fictional. This play is certainly not endorsed by the estates of Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel or anyone else for that matter!
The Strange Tale of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel is at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from Tuesday 25 - Saturday 29 February. Tickets available from / 0121236 4455.

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