I was lucky enough to review CONSUMABLES last year (review here).
It was “punchy, nuanced and an appropriately uncomfortable look at the desire and perils of connection”. A genuinely excellent LGBT+ offering – and one of my Fringe highlights of 2017.
I was super thrilled to hear they’re bringing the show to VAULT Festival 2018, and agreed to catch up with Matthew (the play’s writer) and Timothy (lead actor) to find out more about the process behind their three-hander. I really do recommend. Don’t miss it.
Can you sum up CONSUMABLES in one sentence?
Matthew Kyne Baskott (writer): A darkly comic, tense and poignant look at the extreme lengths two lonely people will go to in order to find a connection.
Timothy Harker (performer): A grotesque tower of expectation crashes down, so that new honest foundations can be laid.
And in one word?
Who’s it aimed at, and what have audience reactions been like so far?
MKB: CONSUMABLES is about an extremely specific situation that most people will unlikely ever find themselves in, but its themes of loneliness, repression and shame are universal. My ambition – and Hello Mozart Theatre’s ethos – is to present stories that appear challenging, with characters that seem impenetrable and shine a light on their humanity. It’s been great sneaking into the showings and watching audience reactions. There’s a certain moment, which I can’t mention for obvious reasons, where you see about five different emotions play out on a person’s face in less than a minute. I have to admit, I kind of get a kick out of it.
Tim. You play Leonard, the (fascinating) central character. How different – or similar – are you and him?
TH: Leonard and I don’t coincide, except that I have lived through periods of loneliness. I think I’m also quite good at dealing with irritating neighbours.
Matthew. What was your process when writing CONSUMABLES, and what inspired you to do so?
MKB: I was pretty angry when I wrote Consumables. I was leading a hedonistic life, which I felt complete disillusionment with. I was also watching a lot of serial killer documentaries – as you do – and I revisited the Channel Four programme The Man Who Ate His Lover (which I’d watched as a teenager). This time around, I found it oddly sad. I could empathise with their loneliness. From that initial spark, I wrote a ten minute short – which had some success. I moved on to other projects but CONSUMABLES never felt finished. I loved the characters so much that I had to come back and finish the job.
The play’s dark undertones particularly captured my attention when I reviewed it last October. I’d love to talk about those. What’s the play really about in your opinion?
TH: It’s that eternal comment on people’s tendency to go masked, to project an image of themselves and to find that the truth, though initially painful, is ultimately less stressful.
There’s a lot of shows to pick from at this year’s VAULT. Why should people head to CONSUMABLES?
MKB: Consumables is a raw emotional rollercoaster that will have your heart thumping in your chest with anxiety one minute, then melting with empathy the next.
TH: It’s completely unpredictable, and you cannot possibly leave the theatre unmoved. Indifference just doesn’t figure with CONSUMABLES.