Retail Therapy is running from 25th - 27th October at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre as part of our upcoming New Voices season of new writing. Hannah Whyman, the writer of this brilliant new comedy, has shared with us some of her thoughts and insights.
"...everything goes horribly wrong after one fateful phone call"
You have 30 seconds to describe the plot of your play…Go!
Retail Therapy is about five characters who share only one common interest: they work in the village corner shop in a small town in Yorkshire. As much as they muddle together to try and successfully do their jobs, everything goes horribly wrong after one fateful phone call. A farcical comedy.
What inspired you to tell this story?
Working in retail and customer service for the past several years has been a challenge to say the least. However after a while I began to find the funny side of things and I wanted to share with everyone how hilariously ridiculous it can be. I was thinking to myself 'this could be a sitcom or a play!' And well, here we are. Also, as a northerner myself, I have always loved growing up there and wanted to pay tribute to it. There's a corner shop where I grew up and it's charming and the heart and soul of the village. I also find a lot of things are just so much funnier in a northern accent.
What was the biggest hurdle for you in writing this play?
Finishing it. Haha. I'd written a few scenes featuring the characters and their hilarious antics, but actually linking them together in to a story arch that goes from beginning, middle and end was very difficult. I wrote a scene for an UnDisposables scratch night back in March and didn't really expect to progress it further. I originally thought of this story as a sitcom and so it didn't matter that there wasn't one long storyline running through it. But with the help of Caspian Cunningham (my director) and Francene Turner (Cast member) I was able to write what you will see on the 25th.
Who would you say inspires you the most with your work? (in or out of the industry)
As a writer, Graham Linehan and the late Victoria Wood. I've grown up binge watching their sitcoms as they have always been my Mum's favourite. I adore Linehan's ability to throw his characters into the most ridiculous scenarios and how they lie through their teeth to get out of it. As for Wood, her ability to write dialogue is absolutely wonderful and depicts real life comedy through the most innocent of conversations.
As an actor It's hard to choose, but Dame Judi Dench will always hold a place in my heart. She's Yorkshire born and bred and if anyone can win an Oscar for best supporting actress after eight minutes of screen time it's Dame Judi. Also in the BBC2 documentary 'Nothing like a Dame' she tells the story of how she needed medical attention because she was stung by a hornet. A young paramedic asked her in a rudely patronising way if she had a carer and so she responded with: 'f**ck off. I've just done eight weeks of The Winter's Tale at The Garrick Theatre'. I'm not sure about you, but that's definitely the sort of women and actor I want to be.
Retail Therapy will be performed alongside The Jailer's Daughter at Ye Olde Rose and Crown Theatre Pub in Walthamstow from 25th - 27th October at 7:30pm (2:30pm Saturday matinee)
Buy your tickets here