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Playwright Andrew Maddock, Interview: “I do get pissed off with ticket prices.”

Forget everything you thought you knew about Andrew Maddock (unless you thought his plays were quite good): his new play Olympiladsis an absolute belter. Andrew Maddock is one of The Independent‘s Playwrights to Dominate 2017. What does that even mean, I ask. “I knew exactly what that was – it was nice for my mum to look at,” he smiles. “For people outside the theatre bubble, I guess it legitimises me.”

We talk about ‘mainstream’ coverage for work and he talks about critics with a candour that is rare in this industry. “I love Fleabag –  I saw it twice – I don’t understand why the Guardian had to review it 6 times,” he says. “Publications don’t have the resources to send people to Pub theatres but they can send another critic to the same show.”

Maddock continues, “I would like them to maybe attend one of my plays in the future, and it’s not really very true because as you said, they are sent on assignment and I’m sure the reason for re-attending a show like that is for clicks. I really respect the work of a critic and I’m sure it’s not easy.”

Director Niall Phillips and Maddock formed the production company Lonesome Schoolboy Productions. Their latest show that has just opened at Theatre N16 explores a multifaceted relationship between two brothers and their estranged sister, living their lives under the shadow of austerity and the hope for a lasting London legacy during the 2012 Olympic Games. The show was selected to be part of Scott Ellis’ first season as Artistic Director of Theatre N16. Put it alongside sell-out show ‘He(art)’ earlier this year and what we’re all witnessing here, people, is Maddock transitioning into a proper actual excellent writer.

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Beyond Stratford’s investment units and ‘innovation centres’, affordable housing is in little supply on the former London 2012 site. The legacy team have their work cut out to re-claim the original vision. It was important for Maddock to take this subject matter head on. “It’s a family drama set during 2012 Olympics… 5 years on. It is about the legacy that was promised”, he says. “The properties that were built are still unobtainable. I was born and raised in Wembley and I’ll probably have to move out of the area if I ever want to buy a house. Olympilads is about a family without that security.”

Fairer ticket prices and affordability is high on his agenda. He says: “I do get pissed off with ticket prices. I know that theatre isn’t cheap to make. But essentially where it gets me is when it’s a cash cow and they are going to sell out the run. Then they could absolutely bring prices down. In football, they have a grassroots model where the bigger Football clubs send the money back down and perhaps theatre could follow that model.”

Is he worried about opening a Olympilads when all the critical folk are at Edinburgh Fringe? “We’re in a tough space with the show opening in August because everything and everyone is up in Edinburgh,” he pauses, “However, we’re also in a great place because there is nothing else on during that time that is as good as our show.”

Olympilads is on at Theatre N16 8th – 26th August (Tues – Sat, No Matinee)

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Five key shows opening in London in the next four months 

Here are five important shows opening in London between now and the middle of November. (Please note that I am open to doing regional shows and Fringe shows but thought it would be fun to start with the ‘big ones’ – just humour me for the time being)

Jesus Christ Superstar (11 August)

Tyrone Huntley and Declan Bennett both have a natural luminescence so intense that it would shine bright in a Vantablack theatre dungeon. This revival is perfectly at home at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre. Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock musical could raise the Titanic from the sea bed. Enjoy!

Five Guys Named Moe (29 August)

How do you think this will do?

It doesn’t exactly feel as if the world of theatre is ‘battening down the hatches’ in anticipation of an unstoppable Clarke Peters musical tsunami. At the same time: you can’t go wrong with a bit of Clarke Peters. (Unless you happen to be the person who designed the poster, who ‘went wrong’ on an epic scale.) Anyway, the cast are extremely talented and it’s on at this new pop-up theatre in Marble Arch. So, ‘Let the Good Times Roll’, etc.

Footloose (12 September)

At this point we are so far into ‘will this do’ territory that you might as well watch the 1987 film.  It’s always difficult to say that a movie musical is entirely pointless, especially when there are audiences enduring it on tour around the country. However, this show, literally a frame-by-frame recreation of the movie, does make you wonder

The Toxic Avenger – (28 September) 

This show is a JOY. Joe DiPietro and David Bryan’s cult rock musical lands at the Arts Theatre following a storming month-long run at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Watch and learn, lesser theatre entities. This is how you do it.

Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – (6 November)

This show is a really exciting thing, isn’t it? The new musical by Dan Gillespie Sells and Tom MacRae premiered at Sheffield Crucible last year and transfers to the Apollo Theatre. John McCrea is brilliant, and ‘Everybody’s Talking’ is a super-smart musical. If you enjoy it, buy the concept album.  

N.B. There are two plays (‘Ink’ and ‘Labour of Love’) by up-and-coming scribe James Graham opening this Autumn in St Martin’s Lane, apparently.