The Park Keeper

Same body. Different life.

Full length immersive play I wrote and directed for Belt Up Theatre’s award-winning fringe venue The Red Room at the 2008 Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s a doppleganger plot: Talbot, a wealthy tourist, and Aaron, a humble park keeper were both played by Matt Springett.

A life of playing hard has taken its toll on Talbot, who is terminally ill. He’s arrived with his ménage à trois to party away his last day in The Red Room, a decadent attraction for those who can afford it. After he dies, his quibbling lovers, Rebecca (Niamh Walsh) and Finn (Dominic Allen), discover Aaron, who looks identical to Talbot. They pay for his services, hoping he can replace their lover. But he’s no good. They have to train him. The consequences are devastating.

It was a surreal play, with a subplot about animal killing for entertainment. Dare I admit that I don’t think the play quite worked? It was sometimes well received and listed as a ‘Pick of the Fringe’ in The Scotsman. I’m grateful for that, but I’m more proud of the play’s direction, than the actual script.

It’s an ordeal for any writer to watch their play twenty times in a row during its run, when you learn quickly that some jokes fall flat, and some scenes don’t work at all. By the fourth performance, I’d already re-drafted it in my head but it was too late. Why do I include it in my portfolio? As a director I learned how to work with dodgy material, and now spot problems a lot earlier in scripts, especially my own; I’m sensitive to how these problems occur too, and have better working relationships with writers as a result. A great learning experience for me. Perhaps I’m being hard on myself…

“If you can cope, The Park Keeper really is like plunging into another world and is something you won’t forget.”
★★★★ – Sally Stott, The Scotsman