‘Skittles’ is a poetry performance piece about love and sweets, the latter being the more reliable. Richard, the loveable geeky hero who bears a striking resemblance to writer and performer Richard Marsh, a similarity the charming Marsh admits to. It is the comically tragic story of Richard and Siobhan (“Shiv”) relationship. We follow its highs and lows, from first meeting to a doomed road trip across America, and of course, a hell of a lot of Skittles.
‘Skittles’ was a break out show at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe festival. Called “funny and wise” by the Observer and “witty and ingenious” by the Telegraph, Richard has become something of an underground celebrity. However, such success did not come overnight. ‘Skittles’ started life as a 3 minutes spot in an open mike night at the BAC (Battersea Arts Centre). From there, he performed all over; at Scratch Nights and ‘The Nursery’ in Waterloo to name a few. Richard, primarily a playwright had told me that he had never performed before. Although enjoying the flexibility and freedom that solo performing granted, he was still terrified. Finally, Mr Marsh built up the necessary material, finances and courage to take his show to the Fringe.
“Edinburgh was like a month long office and sales job, with an hour of poetry a day,” Marsh tells me. His first audience was only 11 strong, and anyone who has been to Edinburgh Festival will understand the effort that it must have taken to attract that modest audience. For one month Marsh handed out fliers to anyone who would take one, come rain or shine or confused Japanese tourists. Marsh reflected that “The whole experience was emotionally, artistically and financially draining.” Nevertheless, Richard persevered and left Edinburgh with glowing reviews a plenty and enough cred that he was talented stopped by York’s Takeover team, and his now coming to our own fair city.
Richard is a “big fan of anything that gets younger people to participate in the arts.” He is very keen to give credit to those who have helped him along the way. He talks about the support he received from Chris Redmond from the BAC, Tim Roseman who was his first director and Dan Coleman who directed the Edinburgh Show. It is through the support of people and places like the BAC, The Nursery and Theatre 503, (where Richard was a resident) that new talent is fostered. Festivals like the Fringe and of course York Takeover are the perfect proving ground for these young artists.
Richard Marsh inspirations are not quite what you would expect. Jay Z and Kanye West are big influences on his easy rhyming style. It is this very style that has given Skittles and his other works have their reputation for charm and warmth without becoming too Richard Curtisy. Indeed, he is acclaimed for his realistic portrait of a relationship in decline, not manufacturing ‘happy endings’. Marsh said that good poetry and good love stories are born out of genuine human emotion and experiences. On the other hand, bad poetry is just based on words, and bad love stories are based on “Good looking women falling over.”
Richard will be performing ‘Skittles’ on the 06/06/12 at the York Theatre Royal Studio. He is also planning on taking another show to Edinburgh call “Dirty Great Love Story,” which he has co-written with fellow poet Katie Bonna. Another love story, it tells the tales of two lovers who first meet while out on a Stag and Hen do.
Keep your eyes out for a full review of ‘Skittles’ coming soon.
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