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Bad Moult: the story behind the darkly comic one-man show coming to HOME

Step into the darkly comic world of Bad Moult, written by Robin Cantwell. Get ready for a show that will leave you in stitches!
Bad Moult - Robin Cantwell

Writer Robin Cantwell’s play Bad Moult won the Cambridge Creatives Playwrighting Award last year.

This darkly comic monologue is now headed to HOME, as part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival next month.

We caught up with him to find out more about this one-man show, starring Colin Connor, fresh from his success in David Thacker’s production of American Buffalo at the Kings Arms.

What inspired you to write Bad Moult?

The project began as a short monologue I wrote in response to a local scratch night callout. It was Halloween, and the theme of the evening was ‘phobias’ — so I decided to submit a dark comedy about a man who lived in fear of his smartphone. For my character, his phone had become this paranoia-inducing portal through which his friends would trigger him with their unbearably perfect digital lives. And with that, Roach was born.

I loved writing about someone who felt that society had left him behind in some way. That everything was becoming gamified — even friendships — and he couldn’t really tell if his friends were even his friends anymore. The themes seemed to resonate with the audience that night, so I decided to keep going with it! Until one day, it became Bad Moult.

Masculinity and in particular toxic masculinity is a hot topic at the moment. How do you explore that in the play?

There are certainly elements of toxic masculinity in Bad Moult — and Roach is definitely not immune from that label — but for me, it all stems from his toxic friendship with Scuzz.

Everything that happens to Roach can be traced back to that fork in the road moment at the turn of the Millennium when he and Scuzz begin to drift, and their friendship starts to decay.

Roach longs for the nineties — his analogue golden age — while Scuzz embraces the terrifying possibilities of the rollercoaster crypto-world.

Their two ideologies clash throughout the play, until the wounds are too deep to heal.

How does the writing process begin for you? Does the idea come before you decide you want to write about it?

My own writing process always starts with character. Who are these people, why do we care about them, and what do they have to say that hasn’t already been said before? This is probably why I’m so drawn to monologues: when it comes to creating a truly compelling character, they’re the ultimate litmus test.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into writing? What would be their first steps?

I’m a big believer in scratch nights and writers’ groups! Whether that’s via your local theatre, an online callout (always keep an eye out for opportunities on the BBC Writers website!), or simply sharing work with your friends — don’t be afraid to get your words read and seen! And never be discouraged by rejections. We all get them. In fact, there’s probably one waiting for me in my inbox as we speak…

How much involvement do you have with a play once it is being developed?

It’s always great when you meet a director who encourages you to follow your instincts as a writer, and Oli Hurst (the director) has absolutely done that for me! It’s been wonderful to work with him on this play. I feel like he really gets what it’s trying to say, which in turn means I completely trust his vision for how to bring it to the stage. I can’t wait to see what he’s come up with!

Bad Moult is part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival. Why would you tell audiences to come along?

We’re all really proud that Bad Moult will premiere at HOME Manchester — and given Roach’s raging nostalgia for New Labour, I think it’s very fitting that the first performance takes place on election night! On some levels, the play is about that never-ending cycle of hope and disappointment we feel when the country’s on the brink of sweeping change, but things don’t work out quite the way we want them to. It’s definitely the right moment to be bringing Bad Moult to the stage — so please do come see it!

Bad Moult is part of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival and it is at HOME from 4th – 6th July and can be booked here

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