June 7, 2016 | Filed Under Acting, General News, Reviews 

“I don’t quite know how to take praise. It makes my eye red.” – Topsy-Turvy, Mike Leigh.

The Brighton Killers has finished its stint at the Brighton Fringe, a run of sell-out shows (all, er, seven of them) to triumphant reviews: 5* from Remote Goat, 4* from Reviews Hub, 4* from Broadway Baby. Flattering words such as “mesmerising” and “surprisingly affecting” were bandied about regarding yours truly, which is all very cheering.

It’s important, of course, to remember that reviews don’t really mean anything other than that one harried reviewer, rushing from one Fringe show to the next, enjoyed that particular performance. If you put too much weight on good reviews, you’ll be devastated by a bad one: really, you can only ever aim to meet your own and your director’s ambitions. Anything else is pandering.

Percy Lefroy Mapleton was a corker of a role to play, it must be said: Mapleton, a real person, was convicted in July 1881 of murdering Isaac Frederick Gold by shooting him (non-fatally) in the neck, slashing him up with a razor and throwing him out of a moving train into the Balcombe tunnel, and all for a pocket watch and the meagre contents of Gold’s purse. He was arrested, released, and arrested again, then hanged at Lewes prison. The role consisted in the main of a 15-minute monologue, detailing his initial lies to the police, the true tale of his crime, and finally the harrowing details of his final night on Earth, leading up to and past the moment of his hanging.

For an actor, it’s a bit of a dream part: a rollercoaster ride through cockiness, self-aggrandisement, exhilaration, guilt, bitterness, and finally abject fear as the scaffold looms. And the icing on the cake? The place where I start the story was in a lavatory in the police cells under Brighton Town Hall – the very same lavatory down which Mapleton had attempted to flush his razor and the stolen purse upon his arrest.

I already knew that it would be a pleasure to take part, as I worked (and had a ball) with the rest of the cast last year on a farce called The House – indeed, The Brighton Killers was written specifically for us by Nigel Fairs after we could not secure the rights to re-do The House. We’ve put the play to bed for now, but there are plans afoot to resurrect it and take it on tour in the fullness of time – watch this space…


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