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Interview: Is It Time To Stop At Camden Fringe?

The Camden Fringe Interviews

Oscar Brudenall-Jones on Maybe I Should Stop?

We were instantly attracted to Oscar Brudenall-JonesMaybe I Should Stop? when we saw the image of him with his tub of Celebrations. Mainly because we all like Celebrations don’t we! Although when we discovered the tub contains something other than chocolate, we deicded we didn’t want to dip into the tub, but we did want to dip into finding out more about the background of what sounds a rather bizarre idea.

So, we convinced Oscar to slip off his backback, put the Celebrations down, and spend a little time to chat about his show that will be playing at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre on the 5 – 7 August as part of this year’s Camden Fringe.

Great to chat with you, so first things first, shall we do introductions.

My name is Oscar Brudenall-Jones, a working class writer and actor from Slough. I trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts as an actor and began writing not long after I graduated to keep my creativeness from getting rusty.

And how did Maybe I Should stop begin life?

One day, through some luck or inspiration (I can’t quite remember, I’m a very forgetful writer), I wrote down a few paragraphs that ended up becoming the start of my one-man show Maybe I should stop?. I always wanted to write a play and star in it so I would get the best jokes and most emotional lines, so I carried on with that in mind, and bob’s your uncle, the play was written.

That is, of course, simplifying it and not acknowledging the sheer terror and hard work that goes into writing a play. I’m inspired a lot by surreal and dark comedy like The league of Gentlemen, Toast of London, and Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, and while my play isn’t as off the wall as these shows, there is a definite undercurrent of weirdness.

As well as writing and acting in the show, I am producing it as well! Comedy comes in threes as they say, and if someone had told me three years ago that I’d be producing a play, I’d have guffawed, if that’s still something humans do.

What can audiences expect from my show?

Well, first of all, there are a lot of dead dad jokes. Second of all, there are a lot of impersonations… Not of my dead dad, that would be distasteful, I’ll just leave it at the jokes. Glibness aside, you can expect to see a lot of heart and meaning in this play which explores grief in a post-pandemic world. Oh yeah, and there’s a stand-off with the police.

Where are you playing?

I will be playing at the Lion and Unicorn theatre on the 5th, 6th and 7th August at 7pm. I chose this beautiful little theatre because having performed a scratch night at the cockpit theatre (which is substantially larger), I realised I needed a more intimate space with which to settle in to some quite dark themes. Being closer to the audience is a new experience for me and at the Lion and Unicorn, you step onstage as soon as you come through the door!

You’ve told us how the show started, but what inspired those ideas?

During the pandemic, I lost my dad to COVID-19. As a result, there was a lot of anger, not just because of the loss, but because of the actions of the Government at the time. We saw my dad once in the ICU before he passed, one at a time because of the rules, while the Downing Street parties were in full swing. This betrayal left us hurt, confused and at a loss for words. Since then, the effects of this peculiar kind of grief seem to go relatively unspoken by the public. There is an irrational guilt one feels when one is unable to see their loved ones before they die, even if the circumstances are extraordinary, like during the pandemic.

Whilst I feel like I have moved through this grief in a healthy way, I still feel like there is something to be said to people who may still be struggling. Combining this with my innately dark sense of humour, I decided to write a character who steals his dad’s ashes and puts them in a celebrations tub to scatter them in St. Ives. My dad’s ashes are actually in a celebrations tub, but don’t worry, I got a new one for the show.

Is the version coming to Camden Fringe how you originally envisioned it or has it changed drastically since you first put pen to paper?

Yes! My initial idea would have had me talking to a floating celebrations tub! However, as I do not possess the gift of telekinesis, I decided to change it. It felt a little bit too much and I had to decide as to whether the show would be more heartfelt or more surreal. I went with the former, with a sprinkling of the latter. There are some monologues that I couldn’t bear to lose, so have changed them but kept the same theme. It’s been really freeing as an actor to look at the writer’s process like this, because I can try things out and if they don’t work, change them!

What is it about your character that you most enjoy?

The thing I love the most about Aaron is his complete inability to control any situation, despite his intense need to. He really feels like an ideas man, with no clue how to actually enact those ideas. It’s not often I get to play a character who lives in his head so much, and it means that some of the things he says become so funny because he immediately regrets them.

Is Camden Fringe going to be the show’s first time on stage?

Camden Fringe will indeed be the first time the full play has been performed. I initially performed fifteen minutes of it at the Cockpit theatre as part of Theatre in the pound, this went exceedingly well, and enough people laughed at my jokes for me to want to do it again. I was told by the scratch night’s compere that I should apply for Camden Fringe, and the next day I saw an article on how to take your show to the festival! It was a bit of a “Stars aligned” moment and I immediately signed up.

Being Camden Fringe, we all know sets have to be bare minimum, how have you got around this with your set and props?

Luckily my character happens to be wearing a rucksack so all the props get put in there, (a very clever bit of writing if I don’t say so myself).

What words of advice/ encouragement would you give anyone thinking about doing Camden Fringe next year?

Don’t delay anything! Just go for it! I never thought I would be putting on a show but here I am. It’s fringe so let your imagination run free!

If you had to describe your show as a meal, what would it be and why?

Comedy with a bite. Al-dente comedy. Grief spag-bol with comedy parmesan on top.

Is there one question you feel we should have asked you?

Are you a mint imperial or Werther’s kind of man?

If budget was not an issue, what’s the one piece of scenery/ set you’d love to have in your show?

A massive effigy of Kenneth Williams from Carry on Camping.

Thanks to Oscar for finding time to chat. Maybe I Should Stop will be playing at Lion and Unicorn Theatre as part of Camden Fringe 5 – 7 August. Further information and tickets available here.

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