The Fifth Duck Prepare
My brother Brian has always been into acting. Even before we started going to an after-school drama class aged about 8 or 9, I can remember him reciting Goon Show and Monty Python sketches, and making up little skits of his own around the house. He’s a member of our old local theatre group, he writes, he does tech at fan conventions, went to Edinburgh to study drama at college, started his own DiscWorld fan convention in 2011, and he’s just finished two years at Mind the Gap in Bradford. Working in the theatre is all he’s ever wanted to do.
Brian & Me
I’ve never asked him what it was that got him hooked on performing in the first place – perhaps it was being able to be whatever he wanted to be without being misunderstood or told off (which is, he won’t mind me telling you, something Brian has had to battle with his whole life, as he has Asperger’s, which nobody recognised till just before he turned 30). Ask him what he gets out of performing today though and he’ll tell you it’s the response from an audience, the interaction of performer and spectator. To hear him talk about it, I guess it’s what makes him tick.
Next week sees the culmination of a dream for him. Ever since he was at college in Edinburgh, he’s wanted to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Not being the best with social conventions, nor wanting to deal with any more knock-backs from what seem like constant misunderstandings from “official” bodies, he’s taken the brave decision to fund and organise it all himself, with the help of some money our grandma left us when she died 4 years ago.
Martyn & Alison Rehearse
Now, as his older sister, who has been there to help with quite a lot of problems in the past, I must admit this prospect left me feeling… trepidatious. Part of me was really pleased for him that he was going to be able to do something he’s always wanted to do (I have a lot of respect for anyone who has the guts to sod it all and follow their dreams), but part of me didn’t want to see his high expectations potentially crushed in what is, let’s face it, an incredibly competitive and cut throat environment. With a show that was only written 8 weeks before the festival and only performed once before in public. Eeeek!
The Cast of The Fifth Duck
However, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise publicly to Brian if I have seemed overly negative in the run up to the show. I went to see the preview at Bradford Playhouse on Saturday, and I really enjoyed it! The Show, entitled The Fifth Duck (and having seen it, I’ve still no idea where ducks come into it, but I’m sure Brian would enlighten you if you asked), is a four-person showcase of talents – a touch of traditional revue mixed with several hilarious running gags, sensitive moments pondering love and friendship, and an entirely new take on the story of Aladdin. The premise is simple and altruistic: everyone gets a turn, everyone contributes to the ideas, Brian turns it all into a script, and then they show the world that even though they may have learning difficulties [three of the four of them do], they’re not write-offs.
The Fifth Duck Cast. Sitting, but not sitting ducks
I am proper proud of my little brother for putting this together in such a short space of time, for having the courage of his convictions to take his dream show to The Fringe, and for writing and performing in it so well. I really hope his run goes well next week, he deserves to be seen. Break a leg bruv!
If you are planning a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, we’d really love it if you could find time to see his show, The Fifth Duck, at The Gryphon on Bread Street at 4pm, Monday 5th – Friday 9th August. Or, if you know someone who is going, please spread the word!
Photos are by Jamie Boynton