It started with a podcast.
Director/Producer Alison Kershaw is addicted to BBC radio plays. The BBC’s Drama of the Week podcast is a staple part of her diet, but it wasn’t until she heard the BBC radio adaptation of My One and Only in May 2012 that she was really drawn into the realm of imagination.
This particular drama centred on a character called Layla, a lonely woman seeking an unforgettable man. It was an intense tale about obsessive love and stalking, and the entire thriller took place over the phone.
“No one ever meets face to face,” she explains, “but the play made me think about how much of our lives, loves and relationships happen over the phone. Most of us rarely leave the house without our phones. Many of us rarely get through a meal without making or receiving a call or a text message or using our phones to win an argument by checking a fact online.”
Kershaw’s interest in the concept is not surprising given her profession as a social media expert for State Government, but as an acclaimed director of theatre as well, the challenge of adapting such a unique play for the stage was too good to dismiss.
“The idea of a play where none of the characters meet intrigued me for a long time,” she said. “It reminded me of popular stories like 84 Charing Cross Road but with more tension and drama! I found the playwright Dawn King online and sent her a message on Twitter. After a few emails between the two of us and her agent, I was given permission to adapt the play for the 2013 Fringe. I was amazed and honoured that she allowed someone from the other side of the world to transpose her play from the radio to the stage.”
Kershaw loves words and loves theatre, so staying true to what attracted her to the original radio play was both a challenge and an opportunity to create a tense yet fascinating experience for the audience.
“It’s been a revelation to discover just how disturbed our minds can be,” she jests. “I’ve used many friends as sounding boards for my ideas to see how they would react, and I’m confident now that we not only have a good play, but one that will resonate with everyone.”
The experienced cast agrees. Tamara Bennetts (Death by Chocolate) is taking on the lead role of Layla, a desperately lonely woman who gets to know her stalker. She’s supported by Jenny Scarce-Tolley (Forbidden Broadway), Alan Fitzpatrick (Star Quality) and William Jarman (South Pacific).
“After this thriller,” Kershaw warns,” the next time your phone rings, you won’t be checking the children; you’ll be checking you locked the front door…”
My One and Only
Venue: Main Stage, Bakehouse Theatre, 255 Angas Street, Adelaide
Season: 5-9, 12-16 March at 6pm. Auslan interpreted performance on 15 March
Duration: 1 hour
Tickets: $15.50 – $23.00
Bookings: FringeTix, or at the door if not sold out