Interview: Caroline Byrne, Blocked

Playwright Caroline Byrne returns to the Brighton Fringe this month with her new play, Blocked, which uses comedy to challenge society’s unspoken rules against talking about infertility. “A famous stand-up’s successful routine – sending up love, marriage and babies – falls apart as she melts down. It’s fast paced and delivered as a stand up routine throughout.”

Caroline explains that Blocked was inspired by her own experience of failed fertility treatment: “There’s a taboo around discussing infertility that society imposes on you and you get crap advice from people. I wanted to explore this and use dark humour to engage the audience, so that’s why I made the character a comedian.”

The show’s performed by Laura Curnick, and reunites Caroline with acclaimed director Scott Le Crass, following a previous collaboration at the Brighton Fringe 2015. “Scott directed my play In A Better Place, which was set in a hotel room, in the rock n roll themed Hotel Pelirocco,” she explains. “He is extremely creative and also very tactful and calm, so I was relieved when he agreed to direct Blocked because traditionally writers aren’t allowed in rehearsal – so you have to trust your director completely or you’d go mad. Scott has been nominated for many awards, and recently had a West End Transfer with Sid, a fabulous show.”

Blocked promises something of a mixed experience for Brighton audiences: “I want them to laugh out loud at the stand up, and then slap them in the face with the final dramatic act,” says Caroline. “You should come and see it because it’s a provocative standup routine within a piece of theatre. Two genres for the price of one!”

As the Brighton Fringe gets underway for another year, Caroline has plenty to look forward to. “I can’t wait to watch Laura Curnick perform the show for the first time!” she says. “But I’ll also be catching up with other theatre buddies and seeing their shows. In particular I’m looking forward to Nick Myles’ Trouble with Men, three great shorts. Also Goddess by Serena Haywood and Purged starring Orla Sanders.”

After Brighton, Caroline has several exciting projects lined up with her company Pure Fluke Theatre. “We write daring, comic roles for women over 35,” she explains. “I’ve just finished a new sitcom about working in fringe, with my co-writer Rachel Goth. The material writes itself. I’m also planning to tour my farce How To Make Money From Art in Ireland.”

Catch Blocked at Duke Box from 18th-24th May.

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