Monstrous Productions

Last night we went to see a production of Mort by a local theatre group, Monstrous Productions. They perform Terry Pratchett plays to raise money for alzheimer’s. Mort was the first Pratchett book we read and it’s one of our favourites, so as soon as we heard, we booked tickets. It turned out, we were the first people to book! It was held in the Gate Arts Centre on Keppoch Street, in Roath, Cardiff, which is a converted church. It is a beautiful venue with pews as seats which surround the stage.

We went with Ryan, but also met up with our mate, Tom and his friends. To be honest, we weren’t sure what to expect. This was going to be our first local production – we usually go to the New Theatre, or sometimes the Sherman Theatre, so we were intrigued. We re-read Mort at the beginning of this month to refresh our memories. We used to be able to remember every book we’ve ever read, but our memories have got worse and reading Mort was like reading it for the first time.

Mort was fantastic. It started with the market scene, so all the actors were milling around the stage then they came into the audience to persuade them to buy their wares. It was hilarious watching how different audience members reacted. We were offered dubious sounding hotdogs, which may or may not have contained unicorn meat, which is probably safer than horse meat, because at least you could burp rainbows 😀  We tried unsuccessfully to lure the prostitute towards Ryan, who was completely oblivious to our dastardly plan.

The actors portrayed the characters more or less how we imagined them in the book. Death, played by Matthew Churchill was outstanding. His make-up was incredible. We were a little disappointed Binky didn’t make an appearance, but flying horses are hard to come by and we imagine health and safety have something to say about horses in a church.

The performances were faultless and everyone looked to be having a lot of fun. Craig Harper, who played Mort, succeeded in matching Death’s booming voice. He was brilliant as Mort, even if he only has one knee per leg. The three hours flew by. We could have watched them perform the book in its entirety and not got bored, which is quite a feat, as we’re easily distracted. The Discworld Series has a lot of books and we hope Monstrous Productions perform many more plays. We will definitely go to every one if they do.

After the play, a random man accosted us in the corridor and asked if we were auditioning for Wyrd Sisters. We said although we are indeed weird sisters, we don’t act 😀 He then dragged us into the bar where some of the cast were and told us we had a magical glow about us. We said said that was our Red Bull haze. We glow from the inside out. Like fireflies. Philip Jones, who played the hotdog seller and Igor came up to us and thanked us for coming. He was lovely so we chatted to him for a while.

We cannot wait until their production of Wyrd Sisters. We haven’t read that book yet but it is now top of our to buy list. Our only complaint – we have to wait til November to see it!

If anyone is interesting in performing or being part of the crew, then email monstrousproductions2012@gmail.com Auditions begin in March.

Cast:

Mort – Craig Harper

Death – Matthew Churchill

Albert – Matthew Hitchman

Ysabell – Laura Kendrick

Cutwell – Richard Atkinson

Princess Keli – Jordan Goodwin

Rincewind & various – Nick Dunn

Mrs Keeble – Steph Jezewski

High Priest & various – Sam Steele

Landlady & various – Emily Peat

Igor & various – Philip Jones

Maid & various – Lowri Belson

Abbott & various – Michael Fogg

Goody Hamstring – Jessica Matthews

Lezek & various – Edward Duke

Various – Alex Butterworth

Various & costume – Luke Belson

Various & stage-hand – Sana Malik

Crew:

Director – Amy Davies

Assistant Director – Edward Thomas

Production Manager – Hannah Bennett

Costume – Daniel Frost

Make-up – Sarah-Jayne Miche;

Lighting – Isobel Howe

Sound – Sian Llewellyn

Photography & stage-hand – Dai Howell

 

Bloody Valentine

Gunning Down RomanceTo celebrate St Dwynwen’s Day on January 25th, Gunning Down Romance is free all week! We started writing anti Valentine’s stories a few years ago, after being sick to death of hearts and teddies and gushing soppy Valentine’s crap that gets shoved in your face every February. Then in 2012 we decided to take the plunge and start self-publishing. We thought what better way to do it than put together our anti-Valentine’s stories and release them as a collection to help those who are sick of the holiday as we are. We only had 2 stories  – The Black Kiss and Til Death Us Do Part, both of which had been previously published. We just needed one more. And so Kiss of Death was written.

St Dwynwen’s Day is the Welsh Valentine’s Day. Dwynwen was the daughter of Brychan Brycheiniog in the 5th century. She fell in love with Maelon but her father had already arranged for her to marry someone else. Maelon raped her then left her. She prayed to God for help to forget Maelon. An angel appeared and gave her a potion that would help her forget him and turn him to ice. God then granted her three wishes. She prayed that Maelon be thawed, that true lovers find happiness together and that she never falls in love again. So we’re not exactly far out when we decided to turn Valentine’s Day into a horror celebration. After all, St Valentine was beaten with clubs and then beheaded.

Also in celebration, GDR’s sequel, Bad Romance will be free Feb 3-7th and the final in the trilogy, Romance is Dead will be released Feb 14th. Because real love is worth killing for.

Watch GDR’s trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8BYiu3PRTE

It’s A Bug’s Life

Hollywood has bugged our house. Not only our house, but our minds too.

That might sound a tad paranoid, but we can back it up with irrefutable evidence, plus our mum’s witnessed the atrocious crime in action. She laughs every time it happens, but we’re beyond the stage of laughter now. We’re ready to break out the voodoo dolls and stick pins in Hollywood’s unmentionables. We might have to start communicating in code. The trouble with that is that our memories are so bad, we’d forget our own code. Maybe we could trade ideas through the medium of interpretive dance. Though we’re not quite sure what the moves for ‘mermaids butchering sailors’ would be.

Most writers are slightly paranoid – many won’t talk about their ideas for fear of them being stolen. In our case, it happens. Not just once. But many times. And they always release theirs before us, so it looks like we’re copying. We shall now put forth our damning evidence that has been recovered. There may be other example lost in storage somewhere. Evidence has a tendency to go missing. Hollywood has declined to offer a defence.

Exhibit A: Years ago, we wrote a novel called Director’s Cut, about a man, Phoenix, who films every moment of his life and decides to liven it up by killing people. A couple of years after that, we stumbled across a film called Peeping Tom. It’s about a man who films his life and decides to kill people. The film was actually released in 1960, but the point is, we’d never even heard of it until we’d written Director’s Cut.

Exhibit B: When we were teenagers, we wrote a lot of crime fiction, always with serial killers and gruesome, creative murders. One of these books was called Caesar’s Blood, about a killer whose murders imitate deaths in Shakespeare plays, and write passages from the plays on their bodies. Again, some time after finishing the novel, we then discovered a 1973 film called Theatre of Blood, starring Vincent Price. It’s about an embittered Shakespearian actor who kills critics in the same way as characters in Shakespeare plays.

Exhibit C: Last year we released Disenchanted, our collection of horror comedy fairytale retellings. What did Hollywood do? Release three films of fairytale retellings. Then there were the TV series, Grimm and Once Upon A Time. Perhaps they thought the same as us – that the 200 year anniversary of the Grimm fairytales being released was a great opportunity. Whilst they bear no similarities to Disenchanted, it was still annoying.

Exhibit D: Soul Asylum is a gothic ghost novel set in a haunted asylum. The TV series, Bedlam, is about residents who live in a haunted asylum, although Bedlam has been converted into flats. The actual stories are very different, but that’s not the point. Should we go on, or do you want to return your guilty verdict now? Hollywood, have you changed your mind about not entering a defence?

Exhibit E: In Gunning Down Romance, the first story, Kiss of Death, is about a woman who decides to build her own lover out of her favourite body parts of other lovers then resurrects him. In American Horror Story: The Coven, two of the witches rebuild a dead teenage boy out of the best bits of his dead friends then resurrect him. The ONLY saving grace with this tale of woe, is that Gunning Down Romance was released first, in 2012. However, not many people have read that, whereas thousands have watched American Horror Story and if they were to magically find GDR, they would think we plagiarised it.

Exhibit F: As many of you know, we wrote a novel, Bleeding Empire, based on the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. It’s actually been longlisted for the Exeter Novel Award, which we forgot to mention on here. Anyhoo, the TV series, Sleepy Hollow (which we LOVE) has who as Ichabod Crane’s enemies? You’ve guessed it. The goddamn friggin’ horsemen.

Exhibit G: In Romance Is Dead (which is being released on February 14th) our returning killer, Trey, has upgraded from mannequins and living dolls to puppets. Specifically human marionettes. And he makes them perform a play. Last night, we were watching Criminal Minds. The bad guy made human marionettes and forced them to perform a play. We were just about ready to Hulk-smash our way through  Cardiff. And of course, that episode has been out a while, (we’re a bit behind on our viewing) so to everyone else, it looks like we’ve copied it. It’s even more irritating because we’d been trying to come up with the final Trey & Sol story for months, and trying to think of his evolution as a killer, yet it’s already been done and we can’t change ours.

And there, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, is our evidence. We suggest you examine each piece and return a verdict of guilty and sentence Hollywood to a lifetime of servitude, turning everything we write into films or epic TV series. We’ll be in our chambers, making foil hats.

Game of Scones

One of our newest obsessions in life is board games. No, not those terrible family ones you’re forced to play at Christmas, but a new generation of board games. Like most addicts, we were introduced to them by our friends, Rich and Hannah, who were lured in by their friends, Ryan and Bethan. One of the things we love about board games is that they allow socially awkward people like us to be able to interact with strangers in a fun way. There’s no time for stilted small talk and avoiding eye contact when you’re focused on saving Camelot, as in one of our favourite games, Shadows Over Camelot. Or if you’re playing Avalon/Resistance, you’re soon accusing total strangers of being traitors and vowing to never trust them again 😀 Or in the hilariously occasionally offensive and rude Cards Against Humanity, you’re suggesting to strangers that ‘A Romantic Candlelit Dinner Would Be Incomplete Without’…’A Super Soaker Full of Cat Pee’. We once played this game with seven people we’d just met. Two of them are now Facebook friends 😀

Counters board game cafe

some of the games at Counters

And there is also a wonderful place where we can feed our addiction with loads of new games we’ve never played – Counters board game events. Rich, Hannah, Ryan and Bethan have formed a crack team to put on regular board game events in Pontypridd YMCA. We’ve met some really cool people there and tried out games we might never have played before. We were at the November event for the whole eight hours and it only felt like we’d been there two! The Counters events are a prelude to them opening their own board game cafe. We can’t wait. You know how some authors are known for practically living in a particular pub? We’re going to be authors who practically live in Counters board game cafe. They’re going to have to charge us rent 😀

Yesterday was the third event and there was a Hanabi tournament. We’d never played Hanabi, so had no intention of entering. Instead, we played Terry Pratchett’s The Witches until Neen and Zoe arrived then we played two games of Witches of Salem. It’s a horror game with beautiful artwork and it’s all about fighting Lovecraftian monsters. The second game was tense. Lynx was the first to go insane, followed by Zoe. It was left to Cat and Neen to defeat the Great One, Hastur. They were barely clinging on to their sanity, the counter was creeping towards the dimensional rift and they only needed a dagger and two elixirs to defeat the monster. Sadly, their fading sanity was not enough and they too succumbed to madness. Battling mythical monsters and slowly going insane…it sounds like an episode of Calamityville Horror!

Hanabi

Hanabi champions

Then Rich persuaded us to try Hanabi. We figured we’d have a trial run, so formed Team Wildraven – combining Neen and Zoe’s surname, Wilder, with our Raven pseudonym. Hanabi is a card game, where you have to make five sets of cards numbered one to five, each of different colours. The tricky bit is that you’re only allowed to see everyone’s else’s cards, not your own. The temptation to peek at your own cards is harder to resist than a chocolate-covered Johnny Depp. You have to give other people information about their cards, in the hope they put the right one down without costing you a life. We won the tournament! Not bad for a team of Hanabi first timers. We even won prizes, donated by Hanabi’s makers, Abacusspiele. We finished the event with Cards Against Humanity.

Game of Thrones board game

you win or you die

Because of this, we now have the holy grail of board games – Game of Thrones. We bought it from Rules of Play last week. Since buying it, we’ve discovered many of our online friends want the game, but have never bought it. We’ve only played two games so far, with Cat being House Lannister, Lynx being House Baratheon and Ryan (Ashcroft, not Counters Ryan. Yes it gets confusing) being House Stark. Ryan keeps forgetting the cardinal rule of ‘there must always be a Stark in Winterfell’. So in the first game, Lynx took Winterfell and won the game without fighting a single battle. In the second game, Cat won after an epic four hours.

So if you love board games, come to the next Counters event and challenge us to a game. But we will warn you, we are very competitive and if you decide to take us on, we win or you die 😉