Alan Ayckbourn’s Drowning on Dry Land, a compelling comedy about celebrity culture, enjoyed a fresh run recently at New Wimbledon Studio thanks to the newly established Bournyack Theatre Company. Although first penned and performed in 2004 its relevance to today’s celebrity culture and short news cycle endures, and is arguably heightened.
The play is an ode to failure, or rather to the English fascination with failure. It tells the story of Charlie Conrad, played charmingly by Blair Robertson, a man who seemingly has everything: fame, fortune, family and legions of faithful fans. His talent? He has none! Charlie is famous for doing nothing and failing in everything he attempts. Through his persistent non-achievement he has acquired a cult celebrity status. He is adored by the public but resented by his trophy wife, Linzi, convincingly portrayed by Janine Pardo: a tv personality in her own right before sacrificing it all for marriage and motherhood. Charlie’s ‘perfect’ world is destroyed bit by bit as the narrative unfolds. His agent, Jason, the suave and relaxed Malcom Jeffries does his best to guide Charlie through an interview with Louise Devlin’s powerfully apt journalist, Gale Gilchrist. But it all goes horribly wrong and is followed by an even more disastrous encounter with children’s entertainer, Marsha, a star-struck mime clown deftly channelled by the mesmeric Olivia Busby. Solicitors are summoned: Philip Gill’s Hugo and John Craggs’ Simeon clash in a battle of quick fire wit, fast-tracking the tension. Add to this the exuberantly animated Frida Strom as Laura and Ellie Ward as Katie, two young girls from next door whose screeching, frenetic appearances pepper key points in the play, and the atmosphere is electric.
Bournyack Theatre Company was recently formed by actor, Martin Rossen, inspired by Alan Ayckbourn and particularly his ongoing recovery and continual writing and directing following a stroke in 2006. The Company’s mission is to bring work by new and established writers to audiences in London and further afield.
As such, the New Wimbledon Studio was the perfect venue. Nestled beside New Wimbledon Theatre, Wimbledon’s iconic Grade II listed Edwardian venue, the Studio is an intimate setting with an audience capacity of 80, and offers a platform for new writers, directors and production companies to showcase their work. Click here to see current and upcoming productions.
Drowning on Dry Land ran at New Wimbledon Studio from 18-23 April and was directed by Paul Tate.
Parties interested in staging this production should contact producer, Martin Rossen of Bournyack Theatre Company.