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Heading to The Fringe: An Interview with 'Love's a Beach' Co-Writers William Johnston and Katie Sayer






As we head towards The Fringe season I had the opportunity to speak to Co-Writer's of 'Love's a Beach' - William Johnston and Katie Sayer in this Behind the Curtain interview.


Love’s a Beach is a modern take on celebrity post reality television. It follows the first gay winners of TV’s biggest reality show, narrated by a chorus of bloggers and social media posts (some from real life!)




 

What is ‘Love’s a Beach’ about?

 

Love’s a Beach is a comedy about what happens six months after your five minutes of fame. It follows Ben and Cyrus, the first gay winners of a L*ve Isl*nd-style reality show (no idea if the asterisks actually help us with copyright, but you never know!) - half a year on from their big win. The sponsorship deals are beginning to dry up, and their star is dwindling - but while Ben is happy to go back to a normal life, Cyrus wants to cling to celebrity at any cost. Then they get offered an influencing deal in Dubai, where LGBT rights are restricted - and have to decide how far they’ll go to follow their ambitions.

 

What was the inspiration behind the show?

 

We saw an article about a previous Love Island contestant opening a kebab shop in a local town highstreet, and wondered, what must that moment feel like. For basically every influencer apart from a select lucky few, there comes a time when it’s no longer Pretty Little Thing calling your agent for a sparkly new brand partnership - but a fast food bakery franchise asking you to cut a ribbon. We thought it was a very modern kind of tragedy, even while being funny on the surface, and wanted to explore that idea.

 

How do you think the show's themes reflect on today's society?

 

Madonna was right - we really are living in a material world and we are all just material girlies. As much as we love posting Instagram infographics about everything wrong with Apple and Amazon, we all have an iPhone (unless you have an Android which is weird) and DPD delivery vans litter the streets delivering our next “thing”, which we didn’t actually need. We’re a society obsessed with consumerism and celebrity and social media. Which are the play’s three themes, so that’s handy!

 

What is the message of the show? And how did you find a way to get the message across to the audience?

 

The play is a satirical take on the world of social media influencing, but its empathy is firmly with the characters, who are just normal twenty-somethings finding that they’re having to come of age in the public eye. So while we prod at the absurdity of that world, we also try to illustrate that it’s a lucrative world, and a world so many of us are drawn in by. So maybe it’s not all as foolish as it may seem…

 

What was the biggest challenge of making the show entertaining whilst dealing with the modern world and negative impact on influencers sensitively?

 

It was really important to us that we were laughing with the characters, not at them. Influencers are essentially highly skilled and disciplined small business owners - but with the emotional complexity of their product being themselves. It seemed to us that loads of bright, intelligent twenty-something were being fed into the machine, spat up, and chewed out - in an incredibly public way - and having to navigate ridiculous pressure and public scrutiny, while also maintaining a cool façade and augmenting a brand that is essentially dependent on being likeable at all times and having to rose-tint everything you do. We’ve all had too many drinks on a night out or overdone it at a bottomless brunch - but when we do it, our friends put us to bed and tell us to take some paracetamol, and the worst that can happen is we maybe sent some drunk texts we regret! (We know we definitely have). The difference is that if an influencer does it, it can be national news. Fame is difficult for anyone - but for ordinary twenty-somethings who are suddenly thrust into the limelight, that adjustment must be particularly difficult, especially when it can be so fleeting. If the play is criticising anything, it’s the audiences/ journalists/ producers who fuel the machine as much as the machine itself - and our heart is absolutely with Cyrus and Ben throughout their journey. We listened to a lot of Britney while writing it - her reflections on being so famous at a young age were a big inspiration. (And she’s an icon ofc).

 

How would you describe the writing style of the show?

 

As much as we were trying to tackle big themes in a subtle way, it really is an out and out comedy. We aimed for a laugh every twenty seconds and the proof will be in the pudding as to whether we’ve succeeded.

 

Where would you like to see the show in the next 2-3 years?

 

West End, Broadway, 10-part Netflix series, feature film starring Kim Cattrall. (Not really, but we would love it to have a future life, hopefully on stage! Watch this space…)

 

How does it feel to be taking your show to The Fringe? And what are you most looking forward to?

 

We can’t wait for August, and are so excited to be able to see lots of other brilliant shows while we’re up there! As for what we’re most looking forward to, it’s a toss-up between seeing loads of amazing productions, and being able to get macaroni cheese at 2am.

 

Do you watch Reality TV? If so, what is your favourite?

 

We watched a lot of reality tv while we were writing the play (in the name of, cough cough, “research”), but the show that captured us as a cast and crew had to be The Traitors (if that counts). We did a preview of the show at Soho Theatre in February, which meant rehearsing in January, and we were having to build in an extra half hour into rehearsals to give us time to discuss The Traitors in-depth before beginning.

 

Describe the show in one sentence or 3 words?

 

The only comedy you’ll see that references both rimjobs and Springwatch.

 

Love's A Beach will be at The Fringe this year, performing at Pleasance Courtyard (Baby Grand) Wednesday 31st July-Monday 26th August 2024 (Not 13th)


Tickets are available from www.pleasance.co.uk


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