David Cumming on the good, bad and the ugly of theatre life.

Over the summer our lovely associate artists Kill the Beast had a mammoth run at Edinburgh Fringe festival presenting two different shows a day. Visitors up North would have been able to watch their old favourite ‘He Had Hairy Hands’ before switching venues to follow up with the brand spanking new ‘Dont Wake The Damp.’ In this interview David Cumming talks us through the good, bad and the ugly of theatre life.

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Don’t Wake The Damp previewed at The Lowry before heading off to Edinburgh Fringe and picking up The Stage Excellence Award 2016. Tell us what winning this award means for Kill the Beast?

Despite an ongoing argument over who gets to keep the physical award itself? Well, whilst this isn’t the only award we have won (apologies for the blatant bragging!), I would say it is probably the most special. We put a huge amount of hard-work, effort and thought into making our ridiculous odd-ball shows and to have this recognised by a nationally-renowned industry publication is genuinely humbling! It’s a great boost to know that people care about our shows as much as we do! Plus, we received the award in a graveyard – yes, an actual graveyard…so OBVIOUSLY we were thrilled!!

This year at Edinburgh you presented two shows back to back, He Had Hairy Hands and Don’t Wake The Damp? How was that?

As gruelling and exhausting as I imagine childbirth to be but – y’know – only much more horrific and without the bundle of joy at the end of it! I’m still having flashbacks! But seriously, it was hard. Harder than we had expected. Edinburgh is a  marvellous place but it is also relentless, and doing two shows every day for thirty days really does hammer that home! That said, we were very lucky to be able to perform two of our shows in the same festival and it meant we were able to perform to more people than ever before so ultimately it was a good thing. Yeah, a good thing. A good but terribly awful thing.

Talk us through the initial stages of making Don’t Wake The Damp.

Unusually for us, we began making this show without a clear idea of the plot/theme of the story. We knew we wanted an 80s vibe to the show and were interested in sci-fi horror so we began watching a host of brilliant films such as The Fly, The Thing, Alien and Eraserhead. From there we began bashing out various plots to get the ball rolling and had a few weeks of Research and Development in a rehearsal room looking at different images we thought we might want in the show. Then slowly, slowly, oh so slowly, the ideas for Don’t Wake The Damp began to form and our current monstrosity started taking shape. And what a gloriously horrific shape it is!

As a comedy troupe, what’s the most hilarious moment you guys have had on tour?

We once got tipsy on red wine whilst playing boardgames in a Norwich Travelodge (living the rock star tour dream!) and when two of us walked back to our room we happened across a woman passed out drunk in the corridor after a hen night. We tried to wake her but she had no idea where her room was and we had to get the staff to help us. We ended up carrying her to bed whilst she told us how beautiful we were (clearly her eye-sight was still perfect). Her equally-drunk roommate didn’t rouse at all as 7 people bundled into the room carrying her friend…Actually, thinking about it it doesn’t really sound that funny, but we were all laughing at the time. Maybe we have just a bad sense of humour, or maybe it was the wine? Either way, it was fun!

Don’t Wake The Damp returns to The Lowry this Halloween after previewing here earlier this year. For tickets and info visit the website or call box office on 0843 208 6000.

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