THE PAST IS A TATTOOED SAILOR
August 2nd – 28th 2016, Old Red Lion Theatre
In this world premiere of Simon Blow’s fiercely witty and bittersweet debut drama The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor, class struggles, thwarted love, and family destruction collide. Simon is the grandson of aristocratic architect Detmar Blow and scion of a family never far from the newspaper columns, and The Past Is a Tattooed Sailor is unique excursion into a lost world of sparkling aphorism and gloriously eccentric characters.
Past and present are one in the sleeping manor house where Uncle Napier lives in an eternal doze. Upper class boy Joshua has sought out his great-uncle, long taken to his bed and drifting in memories of his glowing adolescence. Joshua is having his own roaring twenties with new builder boyfriend Damien, but the burden of class weighs heavy over the young man, and ghosts from the past cling to him like Uncle Napier’s overwhelming scent.
Uncle Napier draws both boys into his delusions that his own youth has not faded, and that a muscular sailor will give this Sleeping Beauty the reviving kiss. Thus Uncle Napier drifts in reverie. Until the two boys and Uncle Napier are sharply awakened by visits from Joshua’s rich Cousin Patrick. But what sinister thoughts lie behind Patrick’s tight-lipped comments? What exactly is he seeking?
This fictionalised drama draws heavily on Simon Blow’s relationship with his great-uncle Stephen Tennant, “Brightest” of the Bright Young Things and renowned socialite. Simon says: “’Why did I write this play? ”You promise not to forget me when I’m gone,” the last words of my great-uncle Stephen Tennant to me – aka Uncle Napier in my play. So I haven’t. I have always been intrigued by how rich upper class families behave. Cruelty would be too kind a word as I experienced from the inside. Class and the greed for money are driving forces in society. My play dovetails them.”
The show is directed by Jeffrey Mayhew, whose recent directorial credits include The Ghost Hunter at Wilton’s, Tristan Bates, Theatre Delicatessen London, Edinburgh Festival (Pleasance) and national tour; and A Brief History of Beer at the Old Bell, London, the Brighton Festival, British and German tours, Adelaide Festival, American tours, transferring to Under Saint Mark’s in New York, off Broadway. Last summer he directed A Cinema In South Georgia, which he co-wrote, for its total sell out borders tour and Edinburgh run last summer, where it received six four star reviews.