Swindon playwright’s ‘killer’ show will tour in America

By Claire Dukes - 8 April 2019

Arts and Culture
  • Swindon playwright Matt Fox

    Swindon playwright Matt Fox

After touring his 'killer' production across the UK, a Swindon playwright will be debuting his latest show in San Francisco this September.

  • Swindon Fringe co-directors Molly Campbell and Matt Fox

    Swindon Fringe co-directors Molly Campbell and Matt Fox

  • Swindon Fringe founder and co-director, Matt Fox, at the Swindon Fringe Launch 2019

    Swindon Fringe founder and co-director, Matt Fox, at the Swindon Fringe Launch 2019

Last July saw Swindon-based playwright, Matt Fox, debut his latest show 'Fred Ted Jack & Harold' at Swindon Arts Centre. This September Fox and his murderous cast will be flying over to America for a week's run of the show at San Francisco's Shelton Theatre.

The show tells the story of notorious murderers Ted Bundy, Jack the Ripper, Harold Shipman, Myra Hindley and Fred West as office workers in a dead-end job, exploring the concept of punishment and an eternity in hell for their crimes. 

Mr Fox says the play was never intended to tour in America, but after having one of his first shows co-produced at the Shelton Theatre the production team were keen to have the playwright back.

Speaking of the opportunity to take his show to San Francisco, Matt said: "It’s amazing! I remember when I was first setting out on writing, I always said my ‘break-out’ would have to be in New York and it would be the day I can stand below a sign with my name on it – and that happened in San Francisco a couple of years back.

"It’s a really weird experience because it's 6,000 miles away, - they don’t have a clue who I am – but people are walking past every day a going ‘a British playwright has got a play on here’ and it’s me! It’s mad! I don’t think I’ve still quite grasped that that’s happened – to go there and see your name like that is astonishing."

According to Mr Fox 'Fred Ted Jack & Harold', which recieved acclaimed reviews, is about to encounter its greatest challenge yet as his "very British" story debuts to its first American audiences.

He said said: "It’s going to be interesting because most of the killers in it, American’s probably won’t know who they are. Ted Bundy is obviously American, and everyone knows who Jack the Ripper is, but Harold Shipman, Myra Hindley and Fred West? They probably won’t have much clue who they are.

"But, I think that will be okay because the play doesn’t require you to know who they are. And, I think in that sense it will be an education. But they [Shelton Theatre] were just really really pleased to have us along, and I think American theatre is a different feel to British theatre. I think there’s something about the way that I write plays that is ‘apparently’ very British, and I think they’re very keen to have that along. And, certainly, taking a British cast along with you to do it makes a difference.

"British humour doesn’t necessarily translate that well over in America, but San Francisco always feel to me like a European city – it’s smaller and has that café culture that makes is very bohemian. I sort of felt at home there, – other places can feel very alien. – and it has a very indie feel about it with little interesting shops and markets. It has everything you would expect to see in a European city. Whereas if you go to L.A or New York, that’s so American."

Before 'Fred Ted Jack & Harold' heads to America, the show will run a final show at Artsite, Swindon, in July or August. Matt added: "We won’t have performed the play for a while, so it’ll be good to have a run of it before we fly out.

"It started in Swindon, and it should finish in Swindon. And, with Artsite turning into a really good arts hub with the extra space, it seems like a really fitting place to do it. Don’t get me wrong Swindon Arts Centre is great, but I think you can be that bit more flexible and creative in Artsite.

"It’s funny, because the first play I had done in America I did the original of that in Artsite pre-Shoebox – so it’s kind of come right back round."

Read The Ocelot's review of 'Fred Ted Jack & Harold': www.theocelot.co.uk/review-fred-ted-jack-harold/

For further information about the production, visit www.facebook.com/FTJHplay/

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