An Evil Thing was gifted to Progressive Players back in January, when we were looking for a play to enter the Durham and Sunderland One Act Festival. It came to me from my friend and new local playwright, Sarah-May Simpson, originally in the hope that I could use it at my place of work. When PP Management Committee member Jo Rendall mentioned that we were looking for a play for the One Act Festival, I asked Sarah-May if we could enter An Evil Thing. She readily handed over the script and let us develop and workshop the play. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often, so I was thrilled to be asked to direct the play, and I am so glad I did! I was joined by Kathryn Sergison as Betty King, Elaine Watt as Peggy Clark and Laura Astin, who performed as the Adult Multi-Role, which required Laura to play all of the adult female characters in Betty’s life.
The cast were joined by Jim McGrath, who operated sound, and Jim Race, who acted as Assistant Director and Stage Manager. Lorna Watson and Theresa Mulkerrin gathered our props, while Marie Dawson and Gillian Rolfe got our costumes together. Gill Race also supported the team with flyering – but more on that later! It amazed me how quickly everything came together. Everything except the three doors which were required in Sarah-May’s script! If we won our leg of the festival we would be travelling down to Saltburn for round two, like The Signalman did for us in 2021. Therefore we needed to consider transporting our set without bringing our costs astronomically high! Enter Dawn Mooney, who cleverly created three collapsible doors using cardboard and clothes rails. Her ingenuity saved the day!
We didn’t make it past round one, but Laura Astin won ‘Best Supporting Actor’ and Sarah-May’s play won ‘Best New Script’. The GODA Adjudicator, Robert Meadows, has also nominated it for the Derek Jacobi Playwriting Award. We knew we had a brilliant production that could travel easily, and that’s when Marian (PP Chairperson) suggested the Edinburgh Fringe. A nice idea, I thought, but nothing will come of it! But once you put an idea in Elaine Watt’s head and she gets to making spreadsheets… suddenly the prospect of the Fringe was looking very real indeed!
Jenny Race, director of An Evil Thing
To be continued…