Book – Sparkleshark

Author – Philip Ridley

Year – 1997

Pages – 39

Genre – Play

Recommended by Kerry Clarke-Tucker

Characters – 9 (3f, 6m)

As of today, Coronatime has hit. Schools are closed. Pubs are closed. Theatres, clubs, restaurants, gyms – all closed. The directive is to stay inside, and this may last for a long, long time. So what to do with yourself?

Well, I have many, many things on my to do list – I may write a blog about them as updating more regularly here is one such suggestion – but the most pertinent at the moment is the idea of Play A Day. For a drama teacher, I am not well read enough in many of the plays that I should have read. Despite this, I must own two hundred plays – or at least have access to considering there are three of us in this house with some kind of drama degree. If we are isolated for so long that I need to read every one of them then someone help us all!

Well, here is the first. It has to be first because I pinched it off Kerry and should give it back. Sparkleshark is one of the wonderful Connections plays – scripts commissioned by the Royal National Theatre to be performed by young people. They are a great idea and a wonderful resource, and available relatively cheaply in compendium form – I have two editions so expect to see a few pop up.

This one sees Jake up on the roof, where he is joined by Polly. Jake is bullied for being a geek, but he is incredible at writing stories. One by one, the other characters join – cool and popular Natasha, her copycat Carol, local bully Russell with his sidekicks Speed and Buzz, emo Shane and giant Finn. Russell wants to beat up Jake, but the girls persuade him not to by saying he was telling an epic story. Rapidly, everyone gets caught up in it, and it becomes and impromptu play.

It is incredibly simple – no abstract ideas, one scene, and just your imagination to create the characters that they embody – but lends itself to some interesting staging. These plays are written to be able to be put on by young people, and I am sure that this would be possible with my kids. The theme is suitable for all ages (just about, there is the odd line that may need younger ears to be covered) and I imagine it would be a lot of fun to put on. There is definitely some deeper meaning to some of the characters that could be explored should you wish, but actually taking it on face value is just as worthwhile, and I can see a scheme of work being created around it – maybe another job for my Coronavirus list.