Angels in Erotica – a fresh new student written and run piece in which God is gay and there is a new female messiah. ‘But those were an afterthought’ their writer, Freddie Drewer, tells us. ‘First and foremost this a comedy.’
The play is written and performed by Durham University’s Phoenix Theatre Company. The Company represents Grey College, which has the phoenix as its mascot after the college burnt down in 1959. Equally the theatre company rose from the ashes of what was originally called the Fountains Theatre Company.
We have a dynamic trio representing the play – Freddie Dewer (writer), Hamish Inglis (director) and Kitty Briggs (producer), who decided last year to try their hand at something original. As Kitty tells us, this has been an entirely new challenge, advertising and pitching to a much wider field, yet the team are ready to embrace the challenge of the expansion and continuation of the piece. I was given an insight into what can be expected from their provocative, modern and unusual sounding production.
Writer Freddie tells us ‘I think that by poking fun at the silly, the important naturally reveals itself.’ As such the play is more than just irreverent comedy – it attempts to revive ideas about religion for a more modern audience to see how religion, sexuality and the naked human body can be interpreted on stage in the 21st century. When asked what her inspiration was Freddie explains ‘I have a degree in theology and was named after a heroine from one of my mum’s ‘bodice-rippers.’ ‘I was born to write this.’ We also discuss the challenges of putting themes of sexuality and gender on the stage:
Hamish: (on sexuality) The all mighty creator can be in love with whoever he wants to be in love with, so it opens up so much more scope for ‘the all loving God’!
Freddie: (on feminism) I think the world is still sorely missing good female characters that aren’t sex objects, but also aren’t perfect ice-cold geniuses. I’ve tried to write a female character that’s a bit silly, saucy and flawed, and therefore hopefully more relatable.
The crew highlight how important it was to find a line between clever comedy and pantomime drama. The actors must really understand the characters that they play, as the style of comedy can switch dramatically between scenes, depending on their content. ‘God, playing himself’ Hamish says ‘can be a right primadonna’. It is also important that the characters and crew can work together closely with this material, which Kitty explains was straight forward, as ‘they all had to try seduce me in the auditions so we now know each other very well.’
I asked one final question: if you were to have an afterparty after the final show, what would the night be like?
Kitty: I am mummy of the group. I would make sure everyone was accounted for after a 2.5 hour panic that Cupid has gone missing, look after God who’ll be throwing up behind a skip, and make bear meat butties for Edwardio in the morning. We’ll then realise we left Moody Blues at the gay bar and we’ll never see him again.
It sounds like quite the night. Angels in Erotica opens 14th August – if you are looking for some controversy, some nudity, and some comedy to top it off, then it sounds like this could be worth a watch.