UK-born writer-performer, Phil Spencer, has joined forces with Sydney-based singer-songwriter Richard Cuthbert to create a brand new show. Equal parts stand-up comedy and storytelling, You And Whose Army? looks at misplaced love, drug use and violence in our contemporary world. We caught five with Spencer ahead of launch to find out more.
How was You And Whose Army? conceived and what themes are you exploring? Some people are making resolutions to get fit and stop drinking this January. I made a pact with myself to write a new show (and keep drinking). The show is a darkly comic tale about growing up in the ‘slums’ of rural South Oxfordshire, moonlighting as a Glasgow drug dealer and how a 29-year-old man has never, ever, thrown a punch. It examines my own personal relationship with violence and its wider political implications in our society. And it’s about trains. I like trains. A lot.
Tell us about your background in stand-up comedy and storytelling. I’ve been writing plays for a while now and I see the comedy/storytelling stuff as a natural extension of that. I still see the need for a narrative arch, dramatic tension, rounded characters and a cathartic finale. You just don’t need as many costumes.
Sydney has a really great storytelling scene and I’ve been writing and performing at events like Story Club, Penguin Plays Rough and Teen Diary Readings over the past couple of years.
You And Whose Army? will be the third full-length solo show I’ve made. The other two: Bluey (about my Dad’s experience in Iraq) and The Great Apeth (about my beautiful but casually racist grandmother) have toured Sydney, Melbourne, Glasgow and London.
What was it like collaborating with Richard Cuthbert? I’m obsessed with the UK post-punk scene of the ’80s when bands and spoken word artists shared the same bill. You had John Cooper Clarke open for The Fall and Joy Division. You had gig punters happily standing and listening to poets and comics and political satirists as warm up acts. So when I thought about my show I was excited about inviting a musician onto the bill. Plus Richie is a fantastic lyricist and a great songwriter and I’ve wanted to work with him for a while. How it melds together? I’m not sure yet.
What kind of experience will audiences have? A handful of fantastic songs. Abrutally funny and magically mundane story.A very cute and intimate BYO venue. If you like these sorts of things, you’ll have a great night.
Exciting future projects we should know about? Next month I’ll be working with The Chaser’s Chris Taylor and Andrew Hanson on their new touring live comedy show. And if Richie and I don’t get booed off – we are thinking about taking You And Whose Army? to Edinburgh Fringe in August.
What: You And Whose Army?
Where: The Newsagency, Marrickville
When: January 16-17