I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle based on the novel by Dodie Smith Book and lyrics Teresa Howard music Steven Edis

Sunday, 29 April 2012

"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink..."

Dodie Smith Photograph: Hulton/Getty Images


In the Observer today was a piece by Robert McCrum entitled: The 10 best lines in fiction -  and the opening lines of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle was included, along with those of novels by James Joyce, Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte and Donna Tarte.  McCrum goes on to say:

"A brilliant beginning to a much loved English classic, which tells us almost all we need to know about the character Cassandra Mortmain."

This is why we have used her opening lines of the novel in the first song in the show.

McCrum also says that:

"Perhaps only an English writer could extract so much resonance from that offbeat reference to "the kitchen sink".

I have often wondered whether, in a round about way,  Dodie started off the phrase "kitchen sink drama".

Her autobiographies are entitled: Look back with Astonishment, Look Back with Gratitude, Look Back with Love and Look back with Mixed Feelings.

John Osborne's play "Look Back in Anger" (1959 is also very autobiographical) came out not long after Dodie's last book.  I have often wondered whether he was poking fun at Dodie through the title - but how very strange that this play was the beginning of "kitchen sink drama"!!!  Legend has it that audiences gasped at the sight of an ironing board on stage!  The ironing board looms large in the opening of Dodie's novel too!!

Kitchens seem to be Ok in musicals but I have been told (I think it was Richard Stilgoe) don't ever have a sofa on stage in a musical!!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Paris Arrowsmith

Paris Arrowsmith and Frances Rose Knox


Paris Arrowsmith played a fantastic preppy Simon in our workshop of I Capture the Castle.  Above is a picture of him in the first read through of the show with Frances Rose Knox as Cassandra, way back in 2009 before Steve and I had written any songs.    Not long after that first reading Steve met Paris again in Trevor Nunn's production of Inherit the Wind at the Old Vic.

Paris has recently appeared in a film with Cate Blanchett and Tom Hollander called Hannah. 

Monday, 16 April 2012

Liza Pulman

Liza Pulman - Mrs Hester Cotton

Liza Pulman, who played Mrs Cotton beautifully in the workshop, is one of the members of Fascinating Aida and was Drama Desk nominated for their New York run of Absolutely Miraculous.  Liza is an amazing singer and her duet with Sally Dexter, of our song Only Men, was a wonderful moment in the show.  

25 copies of I Capture the Castle

I collected my 25 copies of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE from the library today - in readiness for World Book Night!!


Saturday, 7 April 2012

World Book Night




Not long until World Book Night on 23rd April - when I will be giving away free copies of I CAPTURE THE CASTLE in pubs in Forest Hill.  It is one of 25 novels which have been chosen by thousands of people.  The books have been specially designed for this one night only event.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Jos Slovick

Jos Slovick

Jos played Neil Cotton in the workshop of our Musical Adaptation of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.  I first met Jos as he was about to go off to Chichester to play Matt in Love Story in 2010 and he doesn't seem to have stopped working since then.  He was such a joy to watch in the workshops and played Neil's mixture of underlying pain and outward bravado so brilliantly. 

Michael Pickering

Michael Pickering



Michael played Stephen in our Musical Adaptation of Dodie Smith's I Capture the Castle.    This was a rather different part from his recent role as Robin in the world tour of Batman Live.  But Michael stole the audiences hearts in the showcase with his sensitive characterisation and beautifully sung duet with Cassandra of Turn off the Stars.

I Capture the Castle Showcase at Drury Lane

The cast of I Capture the Castle backstage before the showcase

After a period of intense work on the Musical Steve and I telescoped the material down to one hour.  Having taken advice about presenting new work we decided to present the material without any stage directions being read.  The feedback we had on this was all good, we never had to break the fourth wall by telling the audience anything, instead the action was continuous.

The presentation took place at the Grand Saloon at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane to a mainly industry audience of 80.  To create more atmosphere in the Grand Saloon we used stage lighting brought from Watford, a small stage and a PA with four mics to enhance the sound.  Feeding the mics into the PA also meant that we were able to record the showcase from the sound desk.  Steve has lifted all the songs out of that recording and although they are not to recording studio standard we are very pleased with them.

I stood at the back with the director, Brigid Larmour, and my agent Kate Weston, to watch the reading.  From the moment I heard the first ripple of laughter I began to relax and really enjoy it.  The cast were absolutely fantastic and it zipped along at an exhilarating pace.  It was the closest we had come to realising the show.  Steve's beautiful music swept over us all and carried us from scene to scene.  Even though the actors had really given it in the songs during rehearsal, this was the moment it all came pouring out and it was such a joy to hear the songs we'd written performed so well.

The audience response was really very overwhelming - it was what I had hoped for, but never expected.