Ten weeks, forty-two performances, two show stops, two cancellations, one litre of blood, sixty three kilos of chicken, four hundred and sixty-two quick changes, one thousand and forty-five metres of hazard tape and seven boxes of eggs later*, and the monster of a play that is Escape The Scaffold has finally come to an end, playing to a packed out house at The Other Room in Cardiff for the last time on Saturday 6th May 2017.
And what a journey it has been.
I don't think any of us realised, when we first read Titas's script, quite what we were taking on. We were too blinded by the dialogue, the intrigue, the sheer relevance of it all (and this was written way back in 2012), too giddy with excitement at having stumbled on an incredible new voice to realise that this thing was big. Not heavy big like a wardrobe, the sort of thing you just need a couple of people to help you lift and you'll be laughing up the stairs. No, this thing was overwhleming.
As a cast we actioned Scaffold for weeks, holed up in the appropriately atmospheric roof of the Wales Millenium Centre, desperately flinging transitive verbs into the unknown and hoping that something would land on the loose chains dangling around us. The production team wrestled for months with such classic theatre dilemmas as "How do you smash someone's hands with a hammer?"; "How do you get lights under the floorboards?"; and "How do you strip a man naked, drown him in a basement, turn him into a slime zombie and get him back on stage one minute later all spic and span dressed up for work with no discernible backstage area?". And all of this on a wispy cotton thread of a budget.
It soon became apparent that this play was a raging Hydra. Solve a problem, hack it to bits, and ten more shoot up in its place. Now, they have a HYDRA in Marvel, like a LinkedIn for villains, and in the grand scheme of things it's pretty evil, but it's nothing a few superhumans can't handle. It's a common complaint of those films that the villains are about as menacing as a box of eggs (oh, wait...), to which I say: put the Avengers in a room with a copy of Escape The Scaffold and see what happens. The Hulk would lose it, for sure. Tony Stark would just give up, take off the suit and go "You know what guys? This is pointless, I'm done." Captain America would try to take a stand, and the rest would take sides, kickstarting a war between those who think they could stage Scaffold and those who think it could destroy mankind, until even ol' Cap, longing for the days when all he had to worry about was not having abs, would throw in the towel and admit defeat.
If we had any sense, we would have done the same. Long ago. But it's testament to the resilience and sheer lunatic ambition of this extended family of passionate, creative individuals that good sense never entered the equation. And thank God for that, because Escape The Scaffold has been our baby. Something that has dazzled and infuriated us, made us laugh and cry in equal measure, brought us closer and, for our part, made us immensely proud.
So thank you. Thank you to our wonderful audiences in London and Cardiff. Never predictable, never shy, always hungry. It was amazing how many times we would find ourselves chatting to someone in the bar afterwards and they would say "Of course, this was because of such and such, wasn't it?". And suddenly something that had been eluding you for months would finally click, feeding into the next performance. This was a show that launched itself on you, unsuspecting as you were, and you gave as good as you got.
Thank you to our creative team: the tireless Katy Morrison, who found light in a black hole and made the whole room glow; Chris Bartholomew, whose twitching sounds put fear into our hearts (in a good way); and Mark Bailey, who built a world around Hannah and Titas's vision that felt lived in and real. You deserve all the credit you received. And the production team who put it together, twice. In a word? Wow.
To James Watt, our smart and dedicated AD. To Harri. To the inimitable, ubiquitous Rachel Hendry who, if there was any justice in the world would have a paragraph in every single review for a frankly supernatural feat of stage management, but then too few people realise just how much has to happen behind the scenes before the damn thing can start. Rosie Sheehy and Trieve Blackwood-Cambridge, partners in crime, it's hard to imagine doing this play with anyone else. We used and abused each other way more than can be considered healthy for one lifetime, let alone ten weeks. Is it wrong to have enjoyed it so much?
Thank you to Kate Wasserberg, Bizzy Day and Ben Atterbury at The Other Room; to Lisa Spirling, Andrew Shepherd and Jess Campbell at Theatre503. We're just thrilled we happened to find not one but two theatres bonkers enough to want to put this on as much as we did, and who even wanted to do it with us as well. It's been a pleasure.
To our director Hannah Price...where to begin? Words fail me. Either i've gone on far longer than intended (unquestionably), or it's just not possible to express gratitude at the end of all this without embarrassing myself (too late), but I will try. What you have achieved, in wrestling this beast and bending it to your will, is beyond the powers of superheroes. You are a force to be reckoned with.
And, finally, to Titas Halder, the mastermind behind it all. Well, all of this is because of you. Thank you for putting your words on pieces of paper and trusting us all with your dreams.
"I dreamt a dream! What can it mean?"
I have absolutely no idea, but I feel better at the end of it.
See you in 2018.
*Thank you Rachel Hendry for doing the Math.
ESCAPE THE SCAFFOLD - Final two weeks! Read our glowing reviews and book tickets now...
After a brilliant run in London at Theatre503 Cardiff audiences are embracing Titas Halder's brilliant ESCAPE THE SCAFFOLD at The Other Room at Porters, directed by award-winning director Hannah Price. Response to the show has been phenomenal, but don't take our word for it! Here are just a few of the glowing reviews we've had. Take a look below and book your tickets now to avoid disappointment...
“A savage slice of social commentary with a broad surrealist streak…a palpable sense of mounting dread…this vivid, visceral production confirms Halder as a talent to watch” - ★★★★ – Dave Fargnoli, The Stage
“Hannah Price deftly guides us through the time-hopping narrative, while Chris Bartholomew returns with another nervy electronic score. The cast get gamely stuck into the rapid-fire philosophising and intrigue….confirms that Halder is a serious name to watch.”
★★★★ – Matt Breen, Time Out
“The Other Room has excelled again…bewitching, thought provoking and a shock to the system at times too…the trio of performances is quite superb…a vibrant and demanding evening of theatre.”
★★★★ – Steve Tucker, Wales Online
“The actors are young and highly talented…they banter with excellent comic timing and perfectly depict insecurity yet adoration for each other…an excellent play from a new playwright which achieves incredible intensity and drive.”
★★★★ – Jen Soame, Remote Goat
“With Woody Allen-esque cross-talk dialogue, the writing is complex, witty, esoteric, thoughtful and brilliant, and the acting is superb.”
★★★★ – Catherine Sedgwick, The Upcoming
“Hannah Price’s classy direction brings out the play’s light and dark…the excellent young cast convincingly portray three very different people…very much a play for our times.”
★★★★ – London Pub Theatres
“…confirms the thriving collaboration between playwright Titas Halder and director Hannah Price…Escape The Scaffold is a gripping psychological thriller, appropriately supported by an amazing cast and brilliant production values”
★★★★ – Mariana Meloni, Pocket Size Theatre
“Mark Bailey’s elaborate set immediately convinces…the characterisations are pleasingly complex…Halder’s witty and fluent script is redolent of a West End thriller…director Hannah Price presents the moments of (un)easy, alcohol-fuelled camaraderie and schocking violence with equal stylishness…manages to both charm and challenge, providing much to reflect upon.” - Othniel Smith, British Theatre Guide
“…catches the buoyancy and freedom of undergraduate life beautifully. There’s a sense that anything is possible in these three…” - Matt Truemann, WhatsOnStage
“…a credit to all concerned that time never drags…the performances are of a high standard…director Hannah Price, designer Mark Bailey and Sound Designer Chris Bartholomew enhance the style and atmosphere...a play that deserves to be seen.” - David Cox, Theatre Wales
“…a gripping thriller packed with suspense that will keep you on the edge of your seat.” - Jacqui Onions, The Reviews Hub
“Halder’s absorbing script…Hannah Price’s assured, pacey direction…Escape The Scaffold has flair and wit in character and plotting…all laced with a sharp twist of horror…” - Traffic Light Theatregoer
“It’s been over 24 hours since I saw Escape the Scaffold at The Other Room but my mind hasn’t stopped thinking about it since…actors were phenomenal and truly convincing in their roles…definitely worth a watch…” - Sarah Harris, Quench Cardiff
“The staging and lighting are of a very high standard for such a small theatre and play an integral role in building the show’s tension and suspense. The chemistry between the cast is also impressive, and their quick-fire quips are a pleasure to watch.” - Everything Theatre
Escape the Scaffold is a dark, psychological thriller from Titas Halder and Hannah Price, the writer/director team behind sellout smash Run the Beast Down. This electrifying new production is brought to you by Mongrel Thumb alongside two award winning champions of new writing, Theatre503 and The Other Room.
Writer Titas Halder
Director Hannah Price
Designer Mark Bailey
Lighting Designer Katy Morison
Music and Sound Chris Bartholomew
Stage Manager Rachel Hendry
Production Manager Jake Evans
A co-production between Mongrel Thumb, The Other Room and Theatre503.
The play transfers to The Other Room, Cardiff, in April 2017 following its World Premiere at Theatre 503, London, in March 2017.
Performance information for The Other Room, Cardiff.
19 April - 6 May 2017
Pay What You Can Preview Wednesday: 19th April 2017
Running time approx 2hrs 15 minutes.
This production is rated 16+ age guidance for strong language and nudity.
ESCAPE THE SCAFFOLD at The Other Room, Cardiff and Theatre 503, London
Mongrel Thumb are thrilled to announce their next project in collaboration with The Other Room and Theatre 503: the World Premiere of ESCAPE THE SCAFFOLD by Titas Halder, directed by Hannah Price.
I saw it so clearly - you and I in this house, dressed ready to depart. Framed beautifully in this mirror. It was like a freeze frame, stuck. Then the image shatters and you crumple with the glass.
Escape the Scaffold is a dark and dangerous psychological thriller set against the background of a rapidly changing world. Three best friends hunker down in their student house, forced to make decisions that will mark them for the rest of their lives. Get a job. Get married. Put down the tequila and take the money. Save yourself. Love triangle turns to murderous betrayal. Youthful idealism is tested, paranoia takes hold, and real life melts into a nightmare world. The basement is filling with water and there is a monster in the house.
Escape The Scaffold combines classic thriller elements with pitch-black humour and magic realism.
A co-production between The Other Room, Mongrel Thumb, and Theatre503 to present the world premiere of a new play by Titas Halder.
Cast & Creatives
Escape The Scaffold will run at Theatre503, Battersea from 22/3 - 15/4/2017. Tickets available here.
Escape The Scaffold will then run at The Other Room from 19/4 - 6/5/2017. Tickets available here.