Tale of technological terror

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It’s a piece that’s bound to strike a few chords with people - a piece about the frustrations which come with modern gadgets.

Barnham’s Joe Harmston is the director for Michael Frayn’s tales of technological terrors, Alarms And Excursions which plays the Theatre Royal Brighton from August 1-6, starring Robert Daws, Belinda Lang, Aden Gillett and Serena Evans.

The night offers eight plays, 24 characters, one dinner party, an unusual flight announcement...and just where is that beeping noise coming from?

Four friends sit down for a quiet evening together which is ruined by bells, buzzers and a high-tech corkscrew; a German tourist spends his holiday in A&E thanks to an ever-changing answer phone; and an in-flight announcement ends with more than a seatbelt coming undone.

The show - much to Joe’s delight - contains brand-new material, written especially for the tour by Frayn himself.

“I asked Michael. It’s sketches really, and there were a couple of pieces I had heard and which he confessed were successful but had slightly less of a positive reaction than the other pieces. When I met him, he talked about it, and I said I would like him to be very much involved in the production. I asked if he would be in a position to do some rewriting.”

Frayn went one better than that, producing some entirely new work: “We had a very happy afternoon going through it!”

For Joe, it’s a huge added bonus to have the author on board: “So much of my work is about trying to delve into the psyche of an author. If you have got him there, obviously, it is so much easier!

“You know the voice and you know the twinkle in the eye. It’s a bit like listening to someone in the dark otherwise. You can’t see the facial expression. Without that, it is only 50 per cent communication!”

It doesn’t necessarily change the role of the director: “There is a slight shift of emphasis. It just reminds people that you are putting the writer’s work on stage. The director is an interpreter really, not a primary creative role. I feel that very strongly in that I also work as a writer.”