Brighton Magazine

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Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Monday 07 June 2021

Bareback: Comedy Duo Write Brighton Fringe Show Three-Hundred Miles Apart

In March 2020 character comedy duo Horseplay (Kathy Maniura and Derek Mitchell) were poised for a big summer. Kathy had just won Leicester Square Sketch Off. Derek had been granted an 'Exceptional Talent' visa by the Home Office.

They had dates confirmed at The Warren, Brighton Fringe and Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe for Bareback, an absurd character comedy set in a sexless afterlife. 

Development was in full swing after work-in-progress shows in summer 2019 at the King's Head Theatre London"s new writing festival Playmill, the Camden Fringe, and Bedlam Late Night in Edinburgh. 

This followed their first hit show, Witch Hunt, which toured London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and Barcelona in 2018-9.

Then, two things happened: the pandemic hit, and the UK Home Office lost Derek's 'Exceptional Talent' visa. 

Derek was trapped over 500km away from Kathy in Amsterdam. 

The duo had a good cry and then spent the year reworking Bareback daily over Zoom, attempting to make the most of the time forced on them by the circumstances. 

The intense highs and lows led them to incorporate confessional, personal storytelling into their trademark absurd comedic style.

Now, finally, they are back in the same country - indeed living together (risky?) – and ready to present the reworked labour of love that is Bareback. 

The show follows a kaleidoscope of characters as they navigate life after death – including a self-help guru, a failed actress, an artisanal dildo maker and a talking anus and vagina. 

In this wild ride through musical numbers, quick changes and wigs galore – and as the stability of the afterlife starts to unravel – it turns out maybe everyone isn't as happy as they pretend to be.

Rewritten in lockdown, the show is no longer just about highy performative characters. 

Now it's about the blurry boundary between those characters and the truth. 

In a Covid world, the questions of sex (who is allowed to have it), performance (literally restricted) and death feel all the more relevant. 

After the past year, the story provides the escapist comic relief that we so desperately need, while addressing these ideas in a way that resonates.

The team are excited to bring the new and improved Bareback to the Brighton Fringe - indeed they can imagine no better place to step back onto the stage given the city's thriving student and queer communities

The show resonates with those keen to both laugh at and identify with the contradictions of modern life.

"There's nothing I want to do more than perform now. Screw the pubs (and the Home Office)… I've waited over a year for this moment and I'm thrilled to be back in Brighton." - Derek Mitchell, writer/performer

Bareback at The Warren: The Oil Shed, Victoria Gardens, Brighton - 17 & 18 June, 10 July, 22.00 (60 mins), £10 Get Tickets Here

by: Mike Cobley


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