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Interview - Richard Lambert

David Cox

Jul 31, 2023

As the Fringe approaches rapidly our latest interview is with Richard Lambert, Producer at LAMBCO Productions, who tells us about the pressure and excitement that bringing four different shows to Edinburgh can bring.

So, a week before the mayhem of the festival starts. How are you feeling?

Hey Dark Chat, thanks for the interview. Yes, it’s exciting and scary…..lots to organise and many events and activities to co-ordinate

This year LAMBCO are bringing " Boys In The Buff" , "Tickle", "Love Is Blue" and "Twinkle". What can you tell us about these shows?

I should probably start by saying that bringing 4 shows to the Fringe is a lot. Too much? Probably yes! But hey ho, sleep was very 90s. The shows are very different so I’m hoping that amongst them there is something for everyone. TWINKLE is a superb story by Philip Meeks – I saw the play many years ago and it was also performed at the Fringe last year. TICKLE is a musical comedy by Chris Burgess which was commissioned by my company and loosely based on the rather scary documentary TICKLED which was distributed by HBO. BOYS IN THE BUFF is also by Chris Burgess who I consider my creative genius! It’s a musical comedy cabaret that’s more poignant than it’s attention-seeking title. Ha ha! Even the artwork for the posters caused a stir with the woke brigade this year! LOVE IS BLUE is a brand new commissioned play, written by Don Cotter, which asks many questions about relationship interplay when one is “better off” than another and charity is offered. Who’s really helping whom and for what reason?

These shows have all previewed at The Drayton Arms. Are you ready to go?

Ha ha, brilliant! I’d love to be the 1st producer in the World who could, with hand on heart, say “you know what, we are so ready to go”. Wow! Now that’s one for my bucket list! No we’re not ready! But, I’m glad we had a go at getting ready ahead of travelling to Edinburgh! We’re certainly in more ready than not.

Is it difficult transferring these shows to a new venue?

It’s challenging. Matching the in-house technical kit between the venues and then adding in lights, sound and video, to create a show you can be proud of takes planning, design, creativity and a lot of physical humping of gear. I must have been up and down the ladder at least 200 times today but it’s worth it to achieve the quality of production.

They are all playing at C Arts, Have you used this venue before?

No, I haven’t been to C Arts before. I have been to Gilded Balloon and theSpace. Both have different strengths and things I love about them. This year we’re in C Cubed which is the oldest venue in the Fringe. The staff here have been so welcoming, it’s got a really nice feel about it!

4 productions sounds adventurous. Are you excited or nervous about the month ahead?

I’m nervous at this stage but know I’ll be excited once we’ve got through tech and the shows are up and running. Operating the shows, seeing the cast, what the creatives have achieved and then seeing audience reactions takes me to my happy place. I’ll be sad when it’s all over! I’ll always be nervous that we get good houses…..

Have you any idea how you will pace your day?

Oh yes, pretty much out of necessity – get up shower, check emails and social media, grab show laundry (we’ve got a counter-top washing machine and spinner), head to venue, do 5 “turn-arounds” between the shows and operate 4 shows, go home, do show laundry….pour a glass of red!

Edinburgh in August is a lively place. Are you a party kind of a guy?

I’m less of a party guy these days but I’m sure the cast will make up for that!!! I’ve asked for photos of any misdemeanours to leak onto Social

Are you all staying together?

Yes, I’ve booked a shared university flat that is walkable to the venue. It has 8 single ensuite lockable rooms and a shared living room and kitchen. We did the same last year and it was good to all stay together but have private space also.

Owen Dennis who we saw in " Soho Boy" I believe is in both "Boys In The Buff" and " Tickle". Are you now acquiring a repertory company of performers?

It does feel like we’re doing “Rep” with the 4 x shows. Yes, I’m really pleased Owen is back this year, he’s a great performer and such a lovely guy. Dereck Walker was also in FROSTBITE and is now in TWINKLE and TICKLE. New to LAMBCO is Sam Walter, Andrew Ewart, David Heal and Lauren Wood – hopefully they’ll want to be in a future LAMBCO Production. LAMBCO has always engaged experienced actors alongside new entrants to the industry and I’m very proud that I can count at least 38 performers who had their 1st professional role with LAMBCO who have a continuing successful acting career. It’s not an easy profession and at least LAMBCO didn’t put them off!

Those two shows have a twenty minute turn-around. That sounds quite bold.

All the turn-arounds between the shows and in and out of the LAMBCO long slot are tight! I sort the showfiles and additional power-ups and downs of the electrical control kit, the cast sort the stage set, props and costumes. It has to be a well-oiled machine to stay on schedule. It works when everyone pulls together!

These obviously are under the banner of LAMBCO productions. What can you tell us about it?

LAMBCO has been producing for 18 years now. It’s always been a commercial and financial struggle as I’m a one-man band. Luckily I have an incredible team who create the productions – Robbie O’Reilly, Prav MJ, Aaron Clingham, David Shields and the writers Philip Meeks, Don Cotter, along with writer/composer Chris Burgess, and many others over the years.. I’m so grateful that artistically I’m happy with my productions which is due to the creatives.

I will now raise the tricky subject of money. Are you fully costed?

No, I’ve never managed to get any funding. ACE say I’m “financially unsustainable”. They’re right, and I have been ever since I started producing. It’s all done for love of theatre and with passion. I might not be so financially unsustainable if they’d give me some funding!!! Everyone’s paid and it comes out of my pocket.

My Edinburgh memories take me back to 1986, what are your memories of your first festival?

Oh my, one of my first and definitely memorable show was a morning show. I think it was titled “The Fridge ate me”. The female actor arrived on stage crawling through a fridge. It was a budget-strapped show as she was only wearing bananas. Not sure I fully engaged appropriately with the message of the show and I might have silently giggled when I should have been more focussed. I should probably apologise to the actor. And then there were the Caesar Twins who had a circus act that also told the story of how one of them had suffered an accident but came back strong enough to perform. Very talented, skilful and moving. I cried at that one.

Have you had a chance to work out what other shows you may watch?

I’m looking into may shows that are performing before 3pm and after 9pm – there are plenty to look forward to!

Finally, what are you most looking forward at this year's festival?

Operating the shows and hoping that we have good houses and the audiences love the shows. That would make it all worth-while

All the best Richard and enjoy those glasses of red!

As Richard mentioned, LAMBCO are bringing 4 shows to the Fringe this year, details can be found below.

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