An ordinary man receives a nuisance phonecall that just says the word 'twelve.' A couple of weeks later another that says 'eleven.' Then 'ten.'
What's going on? Is someone counting down to the end of his life?
This is the story of his adventures as he tries to avoid everything. Miniature clones of the Pope, Franz Kafka fans, Medusas and cross country rally dancing come into it too. And who are Mr and Mrs Clemons?
I did "Twelve!" in 1996 and it was a great way to get back on the scene. A lot of the credit for the show's success has to go to its director, Hamish McColl of the Right Size Theatre Company. We'd bumped into each other at commercials castings and I'd been a fan of his since seeing 'Stop Calling Me Vernon' about six times in 1994. He and Sean Foley had come to see 'Pony' and was just lovely about it. Hamish taught me tons and was especially helpful in tightening the end of the script which really made a difference.
I plotted the idea for the show while travelling around British Columbia and the west coast of the States the previous summer and the writing process came pretty easily. The structure of the twelve phonecalls was originally going to work through a calendar year so that the calls came on the the first of each month, but that prevented the changes of pace that are so useful in solo shows. And plus, there was no suspense. The Miniature Pope Cloning Project was a good running gag and I managed to avoid fatwas for the reference to Mecca-Godzilla. The village of Red Apples was the setting of a novel I wanted to write the previous year but didn't. The Fiesta de Las Mesas appeared in Elastic Planet on Radio 4 as did a few ideas from the first two shows.
I was very happy with "Twelve!" The Pleasance booked me into a lunchtime slot (12.30pm), the hope being not not to lose money and I think we made a bit back. Everyone got a little 'I am 12' badge which became a talking point at the Fringe - rather than just plugging the show it made people chat about it and I think that was more effective. The reviews were very positive and the whole Edinburgh experience was fun. I was also in 'Oblomov' and 'The War of the Worlds Story' which were both great shows. I did a month-long run of "Twelve!" at the Hen and Chickens Theatre in London in the June of 1997 and that went well too.
The music was by Simon Oakes and this was the first show he scored for me. The theme was beautifully effective and hummable enough to stick in the mind as audiences left. Hamish McColl directed brilliantly, Ted Smith produced with patience and humour. Art design for the props etc was by Andy Riley (he painted Mr & Mrs Clemons and made the menu for Venn's). Lighting Design and technical operation was by Malcolm Rippeth. I had a great team. I always do.
"RIGHT NOW I AM AT THE BEGINNING OF MY ROPE"
Read a script extract from "Twelve!"
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