(BASED ON THE NOVELLA BY JONATHAN CARROLL)
Coming out of loneliness, Ingram York meets Michael Biller a teller of fine tales, a lover of life.
But Biller is being stalked by one of the relics of his past Ė a boy who saved his life in school but who hasnít aged a day since.
York enters a world of wonder and terror as he learns his connection to them both and, in a shocking climax, his true destiny.
I became a fan of Jonathan Carroll's work when Anne Billson, the film critic and novellist, lent me a few of his books in the late 1990s. She'd seen my shows and thought we had a lot in common ≠ the entry of strangeness into a conventional world, the mixture of romance and fantasy. She was right. I devoured the books and set out to get more. I had soon ebayed the lot. The complete lot? Not quite.
Black Cocktail had been published in 1990 as a limited edition novella, illustrated by Dave McKean. And it was a sunken pirate ship to find. It had been included as a story in the US edition of The Panic Hand, but I only had the UK edition. So when I found it in SKOOB in Russell Square just before Christmas 2001 I was in clover. It was great - intriguing, with beautiful one-liners, but filled with cold air. I loved it. Better still it was relatively short and told in the first person. I do shows that are short and told in the first person. Could I tell this story? What a great way to spread the word about Carroll and push my work into a new, darker direction.
To cut a long story short, I spent the winter and early spring of 2004 negotiating with Carroll's American agent for the rights to take it to Edinburgh as a one man show. I re-set the story in contemporary London which meant changing a couple of names and adapting the violence a bit. But the tale remained the same, the one-liners were all still there, the mystery stayed.
I got my Fringe programme entry in and I planned to pay for it all on a zero per cent interest credit card. It seemed the best way. Ed Smith gave me some great advice and Christopher Richardson and the Pleasance Theatre thought it would be ideal as an afternoon show.
Andy Lane and I spent a fine evening taking dark and brooding photos on Hammersmith Bridge and nearly got arrested for our trouble - ≠ a curtain twitcher had rung the police complaining that Arabs were photographing the bridge! Stephany Ungless created a gorgeous poster and flyer ≠ so many people complimented me on them; it was thanks to these guys!
And then it was down to the old team. Erica Whyman made the piece very much her own with some lovely ideas and touches. Malcolm Rippeth did a stunning job of lighting it, placing haunting shadows and beautiful moments in a very small space. Simon Oakes created a score that chilled and charmed alternately. New to my community this time was Netia Jones of the London Film Collective who shot and edited some terrific video imagery to create mood scenery for the background.
About 800 people saw the show during the Edinburgh run, and while the reviews were mixed, I had many punters coming up to me afterwards saying they loved it. I thanked them and always told them to go seek out more of Carroll's work. Hopefully they would.
No script excerpts here since Jonathan Carroll owns the copyright but please visit his website using the link below to learn more about the amazing writer.
Some of Suns of the Tundra's music, including the "Audience Get In" overture of the score is available on the CD Almost the Right People. And it's awesome.
JONATHAN CARROLL'S WEBSITE
Click here for information about this wonderful writer
Read reviews of Black Cocktail
PURCHASE SOUNDTRACK CD
Almost the Right People (containing music from many of my shows) is available right now from my webshop