The Tab meets Sitcom: A Sitcom

CONSTANCE CHAPMAN meets a group of freshers who’ve created a show with a twist.

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How did you all meet?

Elliott: I met Pat and Stefan in the queue to the auditions for the Footlights Virgin Smoker last term. I can’t quite remember how I met Evie, but I think she was talking about sunflowers. And Anna was in a play that Stefan was in and Patrick wrote a damning review about.

Pat: That’s how we won her over. There wasn’t anything wrong with her acting, though; now she has an great script to work with, and a phenomenal director.

Who’s the director?

Patrick: Me.

So what made you write a play?

Evie: We decided we weren’t busy enough. Most of us are prelim Classicists so we had nothing really to do, so we banded together and wrote a play.

Elliott: And as an English student I have even less to do. This is an excuse to leave my room, really. You know, get some fresh air, make some friends…

Anna: And I go Anglia Ruskin – I’m busy one day a week.

So if you had to condense it, what exactly is the show about?

Patrick: It’s a play about a sitcom pilot being filmed.  So you have a nice juxtaposition between this mockery of an archetypal sitcom and the grim realities behind the façade. You get to see the sitcom itself, and then there’s points that break away to the actors making the show, and then you’ve got The Director, who’s just manipulating everything.

Anna: Yes so we’re playing characters who are playing characters, which has been a bit confusing for us at points, but will make plenty of sense to the audience.

Stefan: It’s a mise en abyme of miserable proportions.

What were your influences?

Stefan: The only Sitcoms I have seen are Two and a Half Men and Friends. In fact, my aunt was the Slovak voiceover dub of Rachel – massive inspiration.

Patrick: We also took a lot from That 70s Show, The Big Bang Theory, and The Thick of It, as well as stuff like Breaking Bad for the more tragic elements.

Talk us through the characters.

Elliott: I play Stuart Brown, a kind of failed comedian, who plays Colin, and he’s the straight man. He’s just gone through a breakup, and in typical sitcom fashion a girl moves in next door, and you know, it goes through the whole ‘will they/ won’t they’ thing. Mostly ‘won’t they’.

Evie: I play Alison, the love interest. Early in the writing she was just this regular city girl, but somehow she became this southern hick from Alabama.

Pat: I play Frankie, who used to be in the Footlights, and became a somewhat established actor. He’s playing Dougie, Colin’s roommate, your standard sort of sitcom slob. He tries hitting on Alison, but she’s into Colin. And Colin is too hung up on his ex to even notice her existence.

Stefan: I play Dimitri, the wacky Russian lodger. His character has no real purpose or bearing on anything, but he’s turned out all of our favourites.

Anna: I play The Director. Who’s ‘directing’ things in more ways than you might originally think.  It’s fun to just abuse these guys.

Elliott: It’s all very meta. And the sitcom itself is intentionally the most contrived thing you could possibly witness. Which allows us to get very satirical about the innate sexual and racial dubiousness of a lot of these shows.

The Tab: So what you’re saying is you’re not afraid to tackle controversial themes?

Elliott: It’s about the dark forces of ego, greed and power that bind us all…

Pat: Said the English student.

Elliott: I can go further: I think lurking beneath all this post-modernity, there’s a few moments between the characters that are quite sweet and humane. Those bits are my favourite.

Stefan: You’re so deep.

Elliott: Thank you. I guess what I’m trying to say is, ‘love conquers all’. Is that a good thing to end on?

Pat: Probably.

Any final thoughts?

Evie: Please come, it’ll be funny!

Pat: Yeah, what she said.