Seven Year Twitch

by David Lewis

Seven Year Twitch had 4 performances almost 3 years ago (between the 25th of March 2015 and the 28th of March 2015) at The Riverhouse Barn

175th Production. This sharply observed, fast moving comedy about emotional relationships in mid-life is a roundelay of marital discord filtered through the two key elements of psychotherapy and bird watching.

Full of comic moments with engaging crisp dialogue it concerns the anxious toxic generation of baby boomers who it appears are affected by an unhappy childhood.

The source of the play’s sadness and also the comedy is the misunderstandings that occur in relationships and how our actions can often be misinterpreted.

THE STORY Fran has arranged a dinner party with her much admired boss BEN but her husband TERRY fails to turn up because he is searching for the yellow bellied fly catcher in Norfolk. This is the last straw in their seven year marriage and their friends, therapists and even birds become embroiled in an escalating crisis of marital calamity. The action takes place in two marriage therapy consulting rooms and concerns two therapists MEGAN and CHARLIE colleagues and former paramours and their intricately interconnected clientele. It follows the interlocking lives of seven people, their affairs, their delusions and their character flaws. The audience are allowed to peep into these people’s lives and the revolving narrative and in the round staging allows the actors the chance to display every side of their characters’ lives.

THE WRITER David Lewis’s play was first produced at Richmond Orange Tree Theatre in May 2013. Imagine a mix of Alan Ayckbourne, Woody Allen, and Mike Leigh written in Lewis’s unique witty style. Lewis writes with theatrical verve depicting an ever escalating relay of comic anxiety. He is great at showing moments of social unease and awkwardness and doesn’t fear pushing the action into full blown farce in a terrific sequence that finds TERRY sheltering in his bird watching chair hide in his living room whilst his randy wife enjoys herself with her new lover. But Lewis also delivers moments of repose & reflection with classical music helping to supply a melancholic background. He is at his sharpest writing about the shifting client therapist dynamics where the events described by the patients slide fluidly into flashbacks with the same incidents shown from cleverly contrasting perspectives. Relationships in Lewisland are incomplete, messy, and frustrating, stubbornly resisting closure and final analysis. However Lewis manages to end the play on a moment of possibility. Two people face each other in a room. One encourages the other into intimacy with two precious yet deadly words - “I’m listening”. A review of the first night of the performance run can be read at www.essentialsurrey.co.uk/theatre/sev/

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Ben - Nick Lund

40 The play starts with him half way through a therapy session with Megan worried and nervous about his inadequacies with women. He is passionate about building schools in Africa but has frustrations with his job & his life. Ben has dropped out of law school & is burdened by his parents’ overly high expectations for him and their disappointment with his chosen job. Clever, articulate, attractive and personable, he has a brief dalliance with Fran.

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Charlie - Paul Foster

50+ A therapist going through his own marital crisis with his younger wife Karen and increasingly in love with his client Fran. He accuses his colleague Megan of treating everyone as though they were her patients but he tends to blur the counselling boundaries. Charlie has anger issues and had a troubled relationship with his recently dead father who was an alcoholic. Outwardly successful, stable and reliable he can be moody, weary and preoccupied. His journey of mental & physical decline must be carefully observed throughout the play.

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Terry - Graham Collier

50 ish He has a lifelong dedication to Twitching, off to catch sight of a rare bird the moment he hears that one has been spotted. An oddball, he also disappears when he is threatened in his personal life. He hides from reality and finds Therapy very difficult. Twitching provides an obsessive occupation to detract from his personal problems with his mother and the women in his life. Terry is quirky, funny, energetic and a curiously likeable man.

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Karen - Melanie Brenchley

40/50 Charlie’s exasperated partner. Flighty, dynamic stylish and energetic she is good fun but is now worried about her deteriorating relationship with Charlie. She easily expresses her emotions, dresses impressively and is full of energy and very sociable. Karen is attracted by Megan’s sympathetic willingness to listen & understand.

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Megan - Frankie Godliman

50+ Observes but rarely involves herself with social interaction. She is burdened by her repressed sexuality and taking care of her ageing and demanding mother. As a therapist she is direct and complex enough to spur others into honest self-contemplation. A subtle and sympathetic character Megan provides some of the play’s moments of repose. Outwardly cool and calm she is a skilled therapist but has a lonely and unsatisfactory private life. She lusts after Karen.

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Fran - Nancy Lund

40/50 The precarious survivor of a traumatic childhood she has been in therapy with Charlie for 3 years. She is scratchy and insecure but can’t quite make the decisive break with Terry. She has 2 grown up children from a previous marriage who have flown the nest, and decided to abort Terry’s child. Fran is attractive but reliant on men to define her; she invests in nest building and home improvements. She has a brief dalliance with Ben. It is important that the audience are drawn into her developing story

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Jill - Julia Stevens

40ish An obsessive and fanatical twitcher who has just returned from bird spotting in Peru. Jill is lonely with a hint of instability and OCD. Very funny in her Peruvian costume and in the bird hide with Terry .She has a naïve not quite of this world quality about her. Could be played with a regional accent to add to the humour.

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Jeff - Keith Bollands

Jeff Starkey is the boss, the enforcer in the twitching world. Self-appointed and a despot, according to Terry. This is a small part - a telephone call over just three pages - but adds a great deal of humour to the scene.

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Director - Judith Dolley

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Stage Manager and Set Assistant - Liz Thomas

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Set Design and construction - John Godliman

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Lighting - Nigel Greenaway

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Sound - Ian Santry

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Continuity and Set Assistant - Linda Russell

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Lighting and Set Assistant - Simon Waller

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Set Assistant - Emma Dudley

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Flyer and Programme Design and Set Assistant - Anne Nunn

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Set Assistant - Bill Payne

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Set Assistant - Ian Thomas

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Publicity - Frankie Godliman

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Publicity - Nick Lund

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Photography - Alan Bostock (www.photoeyes.biz)