Award-winning Manchester writer Cathy Crabb’s new play The Bubbler is embarking on its first tour of Northern pubs this month, hitting the Pilgrim tomorrow night (Friday, May 9 at 8pm).
The Bubbler is a two-hander written to be performed over the bar of a pub. Based on Satan’s fall from grace in Paradise Lost, the play began life as part of Scroats From The Underground – a mini-festival responding to the vitriol aimed at young working-class men during the summer riots of 2011.
The story is of embittered Cash Generator boss, Peter and his opinionated battle of wills with easy-going everyman bartender, Paul – fought out over the morals and motives of absent regular, Tony Rabonni, a kind and creative soul who, much to Peter’s disgust, appears to be an all-round great guy.
Written by Cathy Crabb (Beautiful House – Library Theatre, The Enough Project – The Lowry) and featuring Neil Bell (Dead Man’s Shoes, 24 Hour Party People and Tony Teardrop) as Peter and Daniel Street-Brown (The Light, Some Men) as Paul, the piece is produced by former Spike Theatre man Adrian Turrell-Watts and directed by Benedict Power.
Adrian says: “When I first saw the show performed in front a pub audience I instantly saw how powerful Cathy’s writing was and, performed by two brilliantly talented actors, the play touched a nerve with those who saw it and provoked some amazing responses in discussions in the pub afterwards. I really wanted to see how the play would transfer to other pubs and so began to pull together a tour.”
Cathy Crabb says: “I want to see The Bubbler go to pubs all over. It is set in a pub and the characters are recognisable to anyone who works in a pub or frequents one – a ranting regular, bending the ear of the everyman bartender who can’t get away.
“Pubs are a great leveller too. You mix together with people from all walks of life in a good pub, people who just like a good conversation and a good drink. When I was a teenager I used to go to dancing and drama lessons and then come back and play crib in the vault of the pub my sister worked in, with all the old blokes. I like to find the hidden gem pubs, the best kept secrets, or sometimes the biggest dive – the places of character that you know and love. Plays and pubs, that sums up my social life entirely.”
Adrian worked with Marstons Brewery to find pubs across the North and also from recommendations made by other pub managers and regulars. A successful application to Arts Council England for funds to subsidise the production has resulted in a seventeen date tour starting at the Pilgrim in Liverpool city centre and ending – for now – back at The Swan Inn in Dobcross on June 1. The current tour will be used as a case study to see how theatre can be shown in pubs with a view to encouraging writers and artists to make new work for these spaces.