This week sees the launch of the Brighton Fringe 2017, with a programme featuring over 970 events at 155 venues across four weeks. One of these is Trouble With Men, a trio of short plays by writer and director Nick Myles, exploring different aspects of modern male homosexuality.
“Details is a provocative drama about a date that goes horribly wrong, born out of a relationship I had with a transsexual man, which opened my eyes to the variety of issues such relationships can raise,” explains Nick. “Brighton-Damascus is a love story: can Adam and Ahmed turn their online romance into real world happiness? This play was written after I read an article about the plight of LGBT people in the Middle East and the barbaric treatment they can be subjected to. It really distressed and angered me, but ironically the play I wrote in response is a very tender love story.
“And Three Men and Some Baggage is a fast-paced comedy about stereotypes and unrequited love. It’s an excuse to get the casts of the other two plays together and have a lot of fun exploring friendship and attraction and the masks we wear when we’re afraid to be ourselves.
“I hope the plays are original and explore subjects that don’t get much attention. The gay community, specifically, can be very superficial and cliquey, and it would be good for us to confront our prejudices and try to be more inclusive. For instance, even with the rising profile of transgender people there’s still an assumption that a course of hormones and a bit of surgery are all it takes to correct gender misalignment, but it’s not that simple – some trans people don’t even aspire to complete physical transformation. Going to bed with a man who has no penis makes you realise the range of different and unreported experiences there are out there.”
The three plays are performed by William McGeough, Freddie Wintrip and Reece Mahdi. “I’ve been working with William for nearly four years now,” says Nick. “He’s a tremendously versatile actor – so far he’s played ten characters for me, including two women, a murderer and a torture victim. Freddie and Reece are both fairly recent drama school graduates, but you’d never know it from watching them. They have absolutely gorgeous chemistry in Brighton-Damascus, and it was a joy to see them rise to the challenge of playing two completely different characters in Baggage.”
In addition to shining a light on previously unexplored topics, Trouble With Men has an underlying message – and challenge – for its audience. “The last line of the show is ‘What can I do?’, and I’d like audiences to leave Trouble with Men pondering that question,” says Nick. “Not just in the context of the final play, but of the show overall. I’m a fiercely compassionate writer, and I aspire to make work that challenges preconceptions, provokes debate and potentially leaves the world a better place, pretentious as that sounds. The jokes are just gravy, really.”
With less than three weeks to go, the team are excited about bringing the show to Brighton. What are they most looking forward to? “Hopefully large, enthusiastic audiences!” says Nick. “But as an Edinburgh veteran I know the competition for bums-on-seats at festivals is intense. I’ll be doing everything I can to make the show a success, but I hope to have time to relax and enjoy Brighton, which is one of my favourite towns at any time of year. I’ll be seeing shows, eating ice-cream, propping up bars, and quite possibly taking a dip in the sea.”
One of the shows Nick’s particularly looking forward to is Blocked by Caroline Byrne, at Sweet Dukebox from 18th-24th May. “It’s a one-woman show directed by the excellent Scott Le Crass about a stand-up comedian who comes to grief because of her struggle with infertility. I played a very small part in the show’s development, and I can’t wait to see the final result – it’s a terrific and very heart-felt script.”
Trouble with Men is at Warren Studio 2 on 17th-19th May, and at the King’s Head Theatre from 15th-19th August.