In recent years I've worked quite a lot in the theatre as a performer, helping to create pieces of music-theatre: namely Darkness and Disgrace, based on the songs of David Bowie, Those Old and Evil Songs drawing on two centuries of dramatic song, mainly in translation, and Ne me quitte pas, a show of Jacques Brel songs. However, I've also been involved in theatre projects as a composer, musical director and occasionally as a perfomer.
Between 1991 and 1996 I worked on five major London fringe productions with the Sturdy Beggars Theatre Company, originally an offshoot of the English Shakespeare Company: Baal, The Ghost Sonata, Groping for Trouts in a Peculiar River, Macbeth and A Dream Play.
Baal by Bertolt Brecht, Latchmere Theatre, Battersea, July/August 1991. Director: Stephen Jameson.
I was musical director on this show, arranging Brecht's songs, and additional material including composing a fragment of a mass and arranging a tacky disco version of 'I Am What I Am', as well as directing the actors in the musical numbers. My setting of 'Old Anne's Song' from this show was recorded on Photographs in Empty Houses.
"Forget Twin Peaks and The Singing Detective, this is seriously challenging theatre" - Financial Times
The Ghost Sonata by August Strindberg, New End Theatre, Hampstead, June 1992. Director: Jonas Finlay.
Strindberg tried to invent theatrical equivalents for musical forms such as the sonata in this 'chamber play'. My score underlined this approach: I utilised the Beethoven sonata which Strindberg said inspired the piece, re-arranging it alongside music drawn from Grieg and Rachmaninoff and original song settings, and working in close collaboration with sound designer John Yorke on the effects. My setting of 'I Saw the Sun' from this show was recorded on Photographs in Empty Houses.
"Wierd and wonderful...the cast is superbly drilled in this hallucinatory romp" - The Times
Groping for Trouts in a Peculiar River, an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Measure for Measure by Stephen Jameson. Battersea Arts Centre, August 1993. Director: Stephen Jameson.
This inspired updating of Shakespeare featured an original song, 'Cap Noose Pin Lever and Drop', with music by me, and lyrics by the actors Elisabeth Keller and Andy Hough, in which the female hangman Abhorson sings of her delight that capital punishment is being reinstated and she can finally exercise her skills. I later reused the tune for 'Heart of a Heartless World', recorded on Water of Europe.
"A flamboyant, self-confident, visually stunning production...Highlight of the week" - The Guardian
Macbeth by William Shakespeare. Bridewell Theatre, City of London, October 1994. Director: Stephen Jameson.
I provided an original incidental music score for this and also worked on some of the sound effects. Based on two modal themes and utilising samples of birdsong, didgeridoo and Tibetan instruments made from human bones, the score aimed to capture some of the barbarism, infantilism and sexiness of the play.
"One of the best Macbeths I have ever seen...Some of the music sounds like it came from Albanian children's television" - Time Out.
A Dream Play by August Strindberg. Bridewell Theatre, City of London, April 1996. Director: Jonas Finlay
I was both composer and sound designer for a superb production of a difficult play, again sourcing Beethoven (the Egmont Overture and some songs) and integrating it with an ambitious soundscape involving five channels and sampled effects sync'd to actors' movements.
"Finlay's production...comes across as admirably concise. The simple set serves perfectly, and adroit use is made of trapdoors and of sound-effects. Small-scale though the production is, one does not feel that Strindberg's elaborate conception is being scamped" - Financial Times
"Sound employed to good effect" - The Stage
My only recent credit as an actor/performer in someone else's production was in December 1994 when I took the part of The Husband in La Ronde, a musical by Eric Presland and David Harrod staged as a preview at The Actors Centre.