‘Tressell’s work is still relevant’

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It’s in association with the Kings Theatre. It’s taking place at the Wedgewood Rooms. It’s a drama. It’s a musical. And it’s an Edwardian comedy. JODIE JEYNES caught up with writer Neil Gore, to find out about his production of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and the man himself.

Tell us about the show

Neil Gore in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Neil Gore in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

Stephen Lowe kindly gave us the rights to perform his fantastic version of the classic book by Robert Tressell. He also kindly allowed us to adapt the play for two actors.

I perform in the play with Fine Time Fontayne and I added some of the description from the book for use as narration as well as more songs and a magic lantern to flesh out the storytelling.

It’s about a year in the life of a group of painters and decorators as they renovate a town house, for Mayor Sweater. It traces their hardships and struggles.

When did you realise you were funny?

That would have been when I did impersonations of Mike Yarwood’s impersonations in the 1970s on the bus to school. My friends would laugh sympathetically at my Ted Heath. And they laughed a lot when I got caught impersonating Mr Tingle, the chemistry teacher, by Mr Tingle, and got detention.

What would you be if you weren’t a comedy writer?

A writer of serious political drama about everyone being offered outlets and opportunities to be good at something and have a sense of self-fulfilment. and exposing rubbish government that says it does that, but achieves the complete opposite, by allowing opportunities to only a few and bullying the rest.

Name three things that make you laugh

Laurel and Hardy are two: great clowns. And Kevin Bridges is a very special comedian with fantastic observations.

Tell us a joke

Man goes into Boots and says: ‘I’d like a bar of soap, please.’ The person behind the counter says: ‘Would you like it scented?’ The man replies: ‘No thanks, I’ll take it with me now.’

Who’s your hero?

Robert Tressell, real name Noonan, who took a long look at the world and, despite many difficulties and struggles, managed to give to us a piece of writing that set out the human condition in a humorous and accessible way and attempted to offer some solutions. His work remains as relevant now as it was when it was written more than 100 years ago.

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists comes to the Wedgewood Rooms on Sunday, February 17, from 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 from (023) 9282 8282 or kings-southsea.com