A Foray In Innocence at Camden Fringe

A play about a fictitious monarchy, their struggles still very relatable to own daily lives

The Monarchy is on it’s knees in a reimagined 17th century London in this story of a king, a rebel and a lover.

Inspired by the classics, and encapsulating elements of both tragedy and farce, we’ve been speaking to Ronan Colfer, writer and producer of A Foray In Innocence ahead of it’s London debut at Camden Fringe.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’ve written a lot of poetry, short satirical plays and sketches in the past, so when Covid happened and I needed something to fill my days, I started working on a lot of half-finished pieces that were sitting around on my laptop, and this being one of them, decided to commit to finishing it.

The story surrounds a fictitious British monarchy, the dysfunction of their family life intertwined with the difficulties of leading a kingdom, as well as plots to get rid of them. It’s very Shakespearean and Wildean inspired in terms of its characters and writing style.
I’m obsessed with history, so felt it was a great way to bring that, and my desire to create theatre together. The big poetic speeches and the heightened drama throughout makes it a very performative piece, something an actor can really indulge in and get creative with. By the time things started to open back up again from Covid I had a full feature length play on my hands and was eager to do something with it.

 

Tell us about its path to the Camden Fringe?

We first performed this piece at the New York Theater Festival in 2021. At the time I was living in NY and began reaching out to people I knew (and didn’t know), one of them who ended up becoming the director of the NY show, Moshe Henderson. I’m forever indebted to Moshe for everything I learned from him about putting a theatre show together, and the organisation and discipline he brought on board was magnificent, and so too was our stage manager Sarah Chiriboga. Together they were a tour de force and we ended up getting nominated for Best Play and Best Director at the festival.

Last year I moved to London and wanted to put on a show. I felt this should be the one I get started with, so spent many days in between restaurant shifts scouring Facebook groups, reaching out to theatres, submitting to open calls and eventually came across the Camden Fringe Festival. I met director Liam Rear and we chatted for hours about ideas and theatre, and since then it’s just been a non-stop rollercoaster tying everything together. My hope is that all this preparation is not in vain and that it will all come through in the show when it is performed at Upstairs at the Gatehouse this month.

 

What have you particularly wanted to explore in the clashing of ideologies and dysfunctional family dynamics in the play?

How two opposing beliefs, held onto tightly, can turn even our own family into enemies. And how someone can be seen not a human anymore, but something that must be destroyed in order to maintain a belief system. In our play, our young revolutionary Emelia Turner is dead-set on taking down the monarchy and putting an entirely new system in place, a system she believes will be far more beneficial to the people of Britain. However, when she gets inside the palace and meets the ‘enemy’, so to speak, are they what she expected?

Another example is Charles Ferringail, head servant of the palace and Man Servant to King Jacob. Having raised the king and bestowed certain morals and teachings upon him, he then sees his compulsive and power hungry actions destroy all of that in a matter of weeks. And Queen Beatrice, conflicted throughout the play about her fading body and mind, and the purpose and worth of a monarchy she was married into at a young age, yet burying all that conflict inside and carrying on with her ‘palace duties’ even though it eats her alive.

 

What has been your biggest joy in staging this show?

Seeing the actors performing the scenes and bringing the characters to life. It’s always interesting to see how an actor will interpret something, but when they really connect with it, it truly is wonderful. It’s a very wordy piece, so I didn’t make it easy for them!

 
What do you hope audiences will take away from the performance?

I hope it’s an engaging piece of theatre that’s relatable and enjoyable, despite the seemingly distant circumstances of the trials and tribulations of a royal family. However, I think people will see this is a family drama at heart, so anyone can find themselves within the story, and relate to the inner experience of the characters.

 
In 5 words, why should everyone see this show?

An unforgettable night of Theatre!

 
Anything else we should know?

All the costumes in this production were designed and made by Sarah Brittain Edwards, who has been so fantastic and committed to this project from the beginning. I can’t wait to see the actors don their costumes on stage and showcase all her hard work. She truly deserves her designs to be seen by as many people as possible.

Camden Fringe 2023 //  See A Forray In Innocence, Upstairs at the Gatehouse 15th-19th Aug.  Tickets and info here.

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