(Image Copyright: Adrian Gatie)
‘Wrestling Mad’ is the new play by John Godber (his 50th) and can currently be seen at the Hull Truck Theatre until July 30th. It’s also on from January 26-28 before going on a UK tour.
Matthew Booth plays the character of Jeff whose acting career isn’t exactly hitting the heights. His part in the touring production of ‘Dracula’ goes down the pan when the company loses its grants and he must be thinking it’s just another nail in the coffin of his acting career (pun definitely intended). His audition for a role in ‘Casualty’ gets him nowhere and then his girlfriend leaves him. Fellow actor, Jack, and best mate of Jeff, has the same problem so in a flash of inspiration they decide to become professional wrestlers.
I had the chance to chat to Matthew Booth to find out more about the play and how it’s been received
“It’s going really well actually. There seems to be a lot of interest from Hull Truck Theatre regulars and it’s also been a big appeal to kids. It’s slightly different from the usual John Godber play, they’re usually plays about working class people but this seems to be a popular shows for everyone, a good night out like wrestling is with lights, music etc.”
So how did Matthew get the part? ”John rang me and said would I be interested in doing a play about wrestling? Well I used to watch it on ITV when I was a kid but I wasn’t sure I could play a wrestler as I’m a six foot beanpole! But then I went to a show in Skegness and saw some lads my size and realized I was wrong. A guy called Mikey Whiplash came and he knew everything. He answered every question, he was very knowledgeable.”
As I’ve mentioned, Jeff and Jack’s lives are about as healthy as a WWE PPV buy-rate if the main event was Viscera against Hardcore Holly in a loser has to wrestle for sixty minutes against Chris Masters. But why choose to be a professional wrestler?
“It comes from a point of desperation. They’re also out of work actors. They see wrestling as an entertainment run like showbiz. My character is a bit of a chicken, really scared but Jack becomes ‘The Doctor’ who’s a hero to people but then he slags them all off…He becomes a great wrestler.”
So is there a great deal of wrestling in the play? “There’s not loads of wrestling, there’s some grappling but as we’re so close to the audience we don’t get in any bodyslams. A lot of people have picked up on it, I didn’t realize that it’s so massive and it’s great entertainment. We watched some DVDs and it’s so clever, you can’t really tell it’s choreographed.”
On July 12th the cast had a post-show discussion with members of the audience which went down a storm, despite one person feeling rather disappointed at the fact there wasn’t a load of wrestling shown on a big screen!
The play runs until Saturday but there is a UK tour on the horizon, we’ll have more news about that when it becomes available. Tickets for the remaining shows are available on 01482 323 638.
2006 Tour Dates
- Mon 13th – Sat 18th New Vic Theatre, Newcastle Under Lyme – 01782 717962
- Mon 20th – Sat 25th The Lowry, Salford Quays – 0870 1112000
- Tue 28th – Sat 1st April Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield 01484 430528
- Wed 5th – Sat 8th New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth 023 9264 9000
- Mon 10th – 15th Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough 01723 370541
- Tues 18th – 22nd Grand Opera House, York 0870 6063595
- Mon 24th – Thurs 27th City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds 08456 441 881
- Tue 2nd – Sat 6th Gala Theatre, Durham 0191 3324041
- Tue 9th – Sat 13th Wakefield Theatre Royal & Opera House 01924 211311
- Thu 18th – 20th Harrogate Theatre 01423 537230
- Tue 23rd – 27th New Wolsey, Ipswich 01473 295900
- Mon 29th – Sat 3rd June Octagon Theatre, Bolton 01204 520661
- Tue 6th – Sat 10th Middlesbrough Theatre 01642 815181