Funeral Games

by Joe Orton

Funeral Games had 3 performances about 3 years ago (between the 7th of October 2015 and the 20th of October 2015) at Riverside Arts Centre and Rhoda McGaw Theatre

Written in Joe Orton’s lively and witty style this play was first broadcast on Yorkshire TV in 1968, a year after his untimely death. Orton is one of the greatest comedic talents to emerge from Britain in the twentieth century. He is the creator of timeless classic plays, which still have the capacity to entertain after four decades. This play helped to create a climate of change that brought about the end of theatrical censorship. It displays all Orton’s hallmarks of black humour, outrageous characters, deliberate bad taste and surreal situations and still has the power to shock audiences with the unexpected and the grotesque. Its farcical situations are full of splendidly chaotic epigrams written with verbal brilliance. It attacks hypocrisy in general and is a provocative satire on Christian Charity and a delightful parody of the murder mystery/whodunits of the time. Its theme of a person desperately seeking fame and fortune is still of relevance in today’s society.

The plot spins off wildly in various directions, enabling Orton to make fun of organised religion and celebrity status and written with his love of linguistic absurdity. Cult religious leader, preacher and con artiste PRINGLE hires a thuggish criminal CAULFIELD to investigate an anonymous letter he has received that accuses his wife TESSA of having an affair with a defrocked priest. Tessa’s innocent visits to the old man McCORQUODALE involve nothing more compromising than a charitable bed bath. However he is hiding a secret because he has killed his wife Valerie, Tessa’s good friend, and buried her in his cellar under a heap of coal. Even after Tessa has denied having an affair, Pringle still wishes to kill his wife in order to make him headline news. She persuades him to tell people she has ‘gone away’ and agrees to live out of sight with McCorquodale so Pringle can be in the limelight and increase his earning power. However things go spectacularly wrong when a journalist, Patterson, accuses Pringle of being innocent of murdering his wife and demands proof of the murder or else he will publish his lies. At the end of the play the Rev. Pringle is willingly arrested for a murder he did not commit in order to ensure his star status as the pious man who killed his wife because she was taken in adultery.

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Pringle (Bishop Goodheart) - Paul Foster

50+ A pretentious paragon of virtue! In love with fame, fortune & himself. Cadences in Pringle’s speech swell his sense of control and bolster the illusion of grace.

A slick, suave, personality with a charming celebrity image hiding a mercenary interior. Aggressively evangelical and a shameless seducer he is the cult leader of a shady sect called ‘The Brotherhood’.

Pringle is a fraudulent religious charlatan who is smug, sanctimonious and self-important. He enjoys power and speaks in sonorous hectoring tones. His unsavoury reputation attracts women to his congregation and he is further lionised and feted by romantic ladies enamoured by his new status as a wife killer.

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Caulfield - Troy Chessman

20+ A sexy bit of rough and photographic model. A young sleuth and member of the criminal classes. A pretty boy who is willing to be all things to all people – a hired thug, a detective, or a nude model.

A sharp suited streetwise young man with a cocky confident swagger and London accent. He is a brash amateur who is not above a spot of blackmail. Caulfield is an opportunistic young man who likes the good things in life. Once he becomes embroiled in the absurdities of the plot his attitude changes and he tries to make sense of what is happening around him.

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McCorquodale - Marc Anderson

55+ A decrepit defrocked priest with a taste for S&M and pornography. His wife Valerie languishes beneath a ton of smokeless coal in the Rectory cellar murdered because she committed adultery. Pathetic, lonely, maudlin, doddery and in poor health he is a manipulative liar who relies on Tessa to look after him.

McCorquodale is a lascivious groper – the archetypal dirty old man and an unsavoury type. He feels he could equally enjoy the pleasures of sex with Tessa or Cauldfield. Steptoe like in his voice and appearance.

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Tessa - Linda Russell

40+ Searching for her best friend Valerie. Tessa is a committed member of The Brethren and the Legion of Believers. Outwardly she presents as a very British, middle class lady, genteel, religious and upright, (maybe has a Scottish accent.)

She comes over as prim and proper, neatly, smartly dressed and very particular and precise in her movements voice and diction, but with an added sexual allure. Tessa is always anxious to save face and is a busy do-gooder with a veneer of capability. Practical, pretentious and narrow minded but perfectly happy to live a double life as Pringle’s wife and McCorquodale’s carer

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Policeman - Ian Thomas

Appears at the end of the play to arrest everybody

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Stage Manager - Liz Thomas

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Set Design and Construction - John Godliman

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Lighting - Carolyn Menteith

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Lighting and Set - Simon Waller

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Continuity - Jill Payne

Thhe Iain Home Rose Bowl for Best Actor Marc Anderson Woking Drama Festival - 2015
The Guildbury Shield for Technical Excellence Woking Drama Festival - 2015
Best Supporting Player Troy Chessman Spelthorne & Runnymede Drama Festival - 2015