What kind of world has TV gameshows about TV gameshows, pirate videos of drunken Olympic gymnasts, the Rat Shakespeare Company and Troubled Eggs?
Not this one, that's for sure. A quiz creator asks himself the big questions and when he meets the woman with the answers, she just disappears. When she turns up again, she seems slightly different. Is this all just another game? When you're meant to be together, can being from different universes keep you apart?
After the success of 'Modolia' in 1998, I was approached by literary agents to sound out if I wanted to write a novel. I said, sure, why not, and so over the winter of 1998-99 I came up with a huge thing called 'Poppies'. My agent then decided he wasn't going to send it to editors as he thought it didn't work in this form. I cut the story down and took the renamed 'Poppy Day' to Edinburgh in the summer where it seemed to go down fairly well.
I have always been a fan of parallel universe stories, and buy every new novel I can find. Most people think that's strange but there's a parallel version of each of them that does the same thing. Anyway, the idea of alternate universes seemed to be a good metaphor for that feeling we sometimes get in relationships when we feel the other person has suddenly changed. What if everything you have in common with your friends is no longer there. What if your common ground is pulled away from under you. And what if someone you really fancy goes out with your mate.
Poppy Day takes in some of my ideas about friendship as well as what I think relationships should go and how they do go. There are big sections about the TV industry (I was told that the fake programme 'Gameshow Alpha' was worth pitching) and a quite involved routine about Drunk gymnasts. All the names are real - I watched a lot of TV competitions around the turn of the 1980s. One of my favourite parts of the show is Poppy's philosophy. I found it in an article in The International Herald Tribune about the Oxford Book of Baseball in about 1986, ripped it out and have it blown up to A4 size. I have it above my door now. Whether anyone will ever read the story as it was originally created, as a novel, depends on the publishing industry. I still think it works and one of the most difficult things about Poppy Day was cutting my favourite sub-plots and supporting characters to make the one hour format. Ah well. Let's hope....
But the show was a great success. Again, the reviews were very nice and the audience reaction was marvellous. Lots of people were wearing my 'What Day Is It?' badges all over town and for the second year running I was shortlisted for the Comedy writing Award.
Poppy Day benefited hugely from a terrific set designed by Barney George. It was an oversized Monopoly board, with punned street names based on the events of the romance. The furniture and props were all silver to fit in with this design. The music was co-composed by Simon Oakes and Adam Wolters and was absolutely gorgeous. Director Erica Whyman did a fabulous job, making smart cuts to the script and creating the most play-like atmosphere for the story. Malcolm Rippeth's lighting design was spooky and warm alternately. The photo was by Andy Lane and the poster design was by Joe McCleod and both excelled again. Over the course of six 'one-man' shows I've been so lucky to work with amazingly talented people and though I get the round of applause, they deserve equal credit. Not least of all Ted Smith who has been on my journey all the way and a better companion and inspiration I couldn't have hoped for.
"I GUESS IT ALL STARTED WITH A LIE I TOLD AT DOLLY'S PARTY"
Read a script extract from Poppy Day
Read press reviews of Poppy Day
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Poppy Day is available as an eBook from amazon.co.uk
LISTEN TO MUSIC CLIP
Click to hear an mp3 of a track from Poppy Day
PURCHASE SOUNDTRACK CD
Almost the Right People (containing music from many of my shows) is available right now from my webshop