Dead Set returns to the Peacock Theatre after 22 years
Sue Giles and Ian Pidd are back at Salamanca Arts Centre with Dead Set, after a gap of a mere two decades! Ahead of next week’s remounting of the very popular show, we had a chat to Ian about his memories of the original show.
So Ian, what was the impetus for the original production of this show back in 1994?
Well, back in the day we set ourselves the task of writing a new show every year. Sometimes for the Melbourne Comedy Festival and sometimes for Melbourne Fringe. This was a Fringe one. To open at La Mama. Which felt like a lot of pressure. But in a good way. The original idea was for us to make a show about a compulsive liar. And the starting point for the show was much darker than the show finished up being. After a while the whole process got swept up in the love story (we’d never done that before, even though we are a couple…) and, of course the Great Australian Musical which became the story within the story (which we had used before, but this was a much more sophisticated version of that).
We had been doing a bunch of Zootango shows in the Peacock. Weren’t those the days! Huge cast productions of all sorts of plays. So we’ve always loved the place.
What do you remember about performing the show in the Peacock Theatre back then?
We had been doing a bunch of Zootango shows in the Peacock. Weren’t those the days! Huge cast productions of all sorts of plays. So we’ve always loved the place. You can do big things and small things in there and it works. By the time we brought Dead Set here we’d been performing it al over the country for a couple of years so it was humming along. The season sold out quite quickly and that has the effect of the audience being right with you from the time the house lights go down. So our strongest memory was of how much fun we were having with the audience.
And the play is really fun for us to do – lots of funny stuff, the songs are quite tricky to sing but work well within the story and it’s full of these unexpected tender and dramatic moments. There is also a part in the last scene where Sue goes up into the roof of the theatre and at The Peacock that is really high and really dusty! I’m looking foreword to seeing if Sue is still up for that….
Why did you decide to remount the work now and how is it different?
Dead Set is the show that our old fans ask us to do again. And we feel a great fondness for the work too. We also have a whole lot of people that we work with now who never saw us perform (they think of us only as directors). So for a laugh we did a one night, invite only performance of it at this fantastic illegal warehouse venue in the deep hipster part of Brunswick. And a hundred people came and it was so fun that we thought we’d do a the same thing in Hobart – up in Terrapin’s fab rehearsal space. And that was fun too… From there it was a short hop to a season in each city.
What has changed? Well… It’s a funny thing. The two main characters in the show were always written to be older than we were when we wrote them – were were in our early thirties. So they actually work a little better with us being so ancient.
It felt like it was written by someone else. And in that way it was like a kind of gift from our younger selves to our current selves.
It was also really interesting dragging the script out and reading it. It felt like it was written by someone else. And in that way it was like a kind of gift from our younger selves to our current selves. And in a funny way (this is going to sound like we are completely up ourselves) we felt quite proud of our younger selves for getting this thing made!
Are there things about working in theatre that are too silly or strange to even satirise?
We both love working in the theatre. Even though it is a weird way to spend your days. It is quite interesting when we work together making a work. Which we very rarely do these days. We notice that we occasionally have a fight over a line or a song or something that gets really heated. Far more heated than we argue about in our real lives and far more heated than we fight with other people we work with.
Presented by Shaken and Suspicious
A rollicking musical theatre work about secret lives, compulsive liars and the making of the Great Australian Musical. It played to sell-out houses and five star reviews when it first toured throughout the country in 1994.
Written, Composed and Performed by Ian Pidd and Sue Giles
Tickets available ONLINE
Tuesday 5 April 2016 @ 8:00pm (PREVIEW – all tickets $10)
Wednesday 6 April 2016 @ 8:00pm
Thursday 7 April 2016 @ 8:00pm
Friday 8 April 2016 @ 8:00pm
Saturday 9 April 2016 @ 4:00pm AND 8:00pm