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Interview - Waiting for Hamlet

David Cox

Aug 22, 2022

Having loved Waiting for Hamlet at this year's Fringe we spoke to writer David Visick along with actors Nicholas Collett and Tim Marriott to see how their Edinburgh experience is treating them.

So, how has this year's festival been going so far?

NC: Tricky as I am performing in 3 shows and co-producing 3. I’m still alive.

TM: Fantastic. Lovely audiences and great reviews. Can't complain!

You are approaching the final stretch. Will you be glad when the run ends or will you miss it?

NC: A mixture. Edinburgh is wonderful and exhausting.

TM: A bit of both. It'd been great fun, but I'll be glad of a brief rest before touring my other show, Watson, around the country.

What are all your plans when the festival ends?

NC: I’m going to sleep and then I’m off to Florida on Sep 13.

TM: I have a week in Greece - bear watching in the hills above Thesaloniki.

DV: Back to the day job with some great memories from this month, some new friends, and some interesting new possibilities to explore for WFH.

I believe that "Waiting For Hamlet" should have appeared at the festival in 2020. How far had preparations gone before you know what cancelled the festival?

DV: The show is about two old fools trapped in purgatory, and for nearly two years art mirrored life– we were desperate to go out and get started. We had 60 shows lined up for 2020 and managed two.

TM: We were booked into The Space as we are now. All good to be finally here.

The 2020/2021 gaps were our first break from the festival since 2006. How were the lockdowns for the performers and the team?

NC: Pretty awful looking at the receding bank balance but we recorded the audio version of WFH and I co-wrote a new musical with my friend Sam Wright. It’s a country and bluegrass version of “Pride and Prejudice” and it’s on at the Space Big at 10 pm.

TM: We kept ourselves going recording work as audio and film projects. W4H was recorded line by line on laptops under a duvet! A fun but time consuming exercise, especially for Trevor, our long suffering editor!

Were you nervous about this festival as no-one really knew if audiences would return in big numbers.

NC: Everyone was nervous. But faith in the show has been repaid!

TM: Always nervous about audiences but complete faith in David's brilliant script!

We and the audience that saw " Waiting For Hamlet" loved it. Were you surprised how popular it has been?

NC: It’s been hugely gratifying.

TM: Very pleased by the hugely positive reaction, yes.

DV: It’s been worth the wait. I didn’t really know if audiences would embrace a comedy where two dead characters from Hamlet having a discussion about their roles in this most famous of all tragedies. I worried I was trying to be too clever. Turns out you can’t be too clever for a Edinburgh Fringe audience.

The starting point of " Waiting For Hamlet" is David's book. Can I ask what gave you the idea to write it and did it flow easily?

DV: It came from watching a fairly poor production of Hamlet and finding myself wondering what would happen of the ghost never walks at the start. So many people die as a result of his inability to accept his fate. I wrote it very quickly, then very slowly, and I’d still be fiddling with it now but at some point the cast are entitled to shout No More!

Is Hamlet David 's favourite Shakespeare play?

DV: Isn’t it everyone’s favourite Shakespeare play? Isn’t it everyone’s favourite play?

David; Tim and Nicholas are the perfect casting. How early into the project were they involved?

DV: They’re great, aren’t they? They came on board in late 2019 after Waiting for Hamlet had picked up the Kenneth Branagh New Drama Writing Award and I had no idea how to get it onto the stage. The most amazing thing for me is that they kept faith in this script through two long years of shutdown, and even though they both have all kinds of excellent projects as writers, producers, directors and actors at Edinburgh, they kept a space in their mad itineries for this. I’m eternally grateful.

Tim, you're also in "Watson - The Final Problem". When I met you early in the run you were shattered. Is it getting any easier?

TM: Yes, much better now the weather is cooler!

Similarly, Nicholas is also in "Done To Death, By Jove" and "Appraisal ". How do you do it?

NC: I really have to govern my energy. So, sleep, food and water.

Both Tim and Nicholas have co-written shows this year? What is more fun, creating a piece or bringing it to life on stage?

TM: Seeing it come alive on stage is the thrill of it.

NC: I’ve been thrilled with the reaction to both shows – that’s the acid test!

Can I ask Tim about the problem of following up his role in " The Brittas Empire"?

TM: Brittas came to and end, TV roles weren't really happening, touring theatre was taking me away from home, so I got out to work in education. I was blessed to work in a great school that had three theatres to play with!

Also, how much are you enjoying returning to the stage?

TM: Loving it. Great to walk the walk after 18 years talking the talk!

As I mentioned in the review my wife was at College at the same time as Tim. What are your memories of your time at the Royal Holloway College at Egham?!

TM: A very long time ago... memories fade... I remember playing a lot of sport, being in a lot of plays and doing very little work!

Would you be tempted to go to one of their reunions?

TM: Of course, if free on the day.

My festival memories go back to 1986. Can you remember your first Edinburgh festivals?

TM: My first was quite recent. 2017, when still a teacher. So I was pitched into mad crowded festivals from day 1 and haven't witnessed the growth of the festival. But it has been a great trade fair and has led to fantastic opportunities to play festivals in Australia, New Zealand and the US and opened up national and international touring opportunities, so I am deeply grateful!

NC: My first Fringe was in 1980 as a callow University student. We brought 4 new plays and presented in the newly unconsecrated Nicholson St Church – now Zoo Southside. A certain Simon le Bon was one of our company! The next was in 2010 and it has catapulted me all over the world. USA, Australia, South Korea and Japan. Can’t complain!!

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