Who? Jon Gracey
What? Werewolf: Live
Where? Underbelly, Bristo Square – Jersey (Venue 302)
What are your feelings as you enter into this year’s Edinburgh Fringe season?
Much better than last year! Turns out doing a high energy audience interaction show (last year’s version of Werewolf: Live) and taking your first play (Courtroom Play: A Courtroom Play) is A LOT. This year we’re being much more sensible (just the one show) so I’m feeling far more prepared. It’s like I’ve done a bunch of training already, though metaphorically. I have not been training physically.
What is the premise of your Edinburgh show this year?
It’s Werewolf: Live, Becca, but not as we know it. Last year the game was all audience players, and was fun but fairly throwaway. Also last year we did a one-off charity show with comedians playing Werewolf, and they. were. incredible. So the show is now a panel show where the audience watch as very good and funny comedians brutally lie to each other and question everything they ever thought they knew. It’s super fun!
What is the biggest obstacle you face(d) while putting this show together?
The whole journey of taking an existing game and making it into a show has been one of slowly sanding down over many, many years. When we started doing it in 2015 in Australia, it was a full-on, 3-hour immersive theatre experience with food and multiple roles and it was a nightmare. Loads of fun, but completely unsustainable. Our development of it has involved carefully removing elements and checking the house of cards doesn’t tumble down, and then pushing out another Jenga block and seeing what happens. If I may mix my gaming metaphors. So the biggest thing has been keeping the solid core of ‘people trying to figure out who’s lying’ while removing as much of the fluff as possible. We’re pretty happy with where we’ve got it!
Has your attitude towards the Fringe changed at all in recent years?
I actually took a big break, not doing the Fringe from 2014-2017, so when we first came back last year after a long absence, things were really different. The whole tone of it felt more… corporate, perhaps? But our goals have changed, we now have really clear reasons to go and clear goals we want to achieve, so it’s less of a wild party, running around getting drunk and seeing shows, and more of a month-long professional engagement. Which may sound a little dry but in reality it means taking care of yourself, really thinking about what you want and making the most of it. It’s also insanely expensive! We can’t afford to tit about; it’s got to be worth it.
Do you have any other Edinburgh show recommendations?
I’ve heard amazing things about Lois by Lucy Farrett, who is a regular on Werewolf: Live, and we’ve met and cemented friendships with so many great comedians doing this show. Ahir Shah is always a delight, Stevie Martin (another of our regulars) is excellent, Nish Kumar is brilliant, Nick Helm will always be a barnstorming presence. I’ll definitely be at all their shows, and excitingly we’ll get to meet a bunch of people there and find out what cool stuff they’re doing!
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
Our big goal is to get Werewolf: Live on TV. We’re getting there, but in a year’s time? On that box. Or Netflix. Or however TV works these days.