How much does new Edwardian spoof comedy Cream Tea and Incest, with its aristo Eddie Spangler and his servant Jeffrey, owe to PG Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster? Writer, producer and star Benjamin Alborough answers our questions about the script and the 2.5 dimensional set. Have a read – and then get booking for the Edinburgh Fringe hit coming to London’s Hope Theatre next week!
In Cream Tea and Incest, we follow Eddie Spangler, an incompetent but optimistic Englishman and his loyal valet, Jeffrey, as a simple matchmaking quest quickly deteriorates into a race against time when the Machiavellian forces of the aristocracy move to wreak their vengeance.
Lord Wiggins is set to inherit Rhodesia upon his marriage to Emily Rhodes, but their romance is faltering. It is up to Eddie and Jeffrey to sort Wiggins out as quickly and violently as possible. Meanwhile – the evil Lord Biggins lurks in the shadows, waiting to execute dark schemes of his own…
From a sell-out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe comes “the world’s first 2.5-dimensional show”, set in a world where every prop and set piece is made out of cardboard. Delight in their capers, mix-ups, and the dead bodies left in their wake.
Cream Tea and Incest is written by Benjamin Alborough, who also stars as Eddie Spangler. He’s joined in the cast by Eoin McAndrew (as Jeffrey), Aiden Cheng (Lord Wiggins) and Edward Spence (Lord Biggins). It’s directed by Benjamin Philipp, with design and original music by Olivia Rose Dean, choreography by Hector Mitchell-Turner, sound by Luke Stavenuiter and publicity design by Ivo de Jager.
Talking to… Benjamin Alborough
What was your inspiration for Cream Tea & Incest?
If you want to see a comedy play on the Fringe, it’ll probably be a devised murder mystery – a lot of these are really wonderful but it’s completely beyond my comfort zone as a writer. I don’t like Agatha Christie and don’t know anyone who does yet she’s everywhere. I’ve experimented with it before (in 2015 I directed a murder mystery comedy set in the Vatican), but it didn’t feel honest. I wanted to do a really gag heavy, lightning quick show where you never quite knew what was going to happen next. Cream Tea and Incest was the result.
How much do Eddie Spangler & Jeffrey owe to Jeeves & Wooster?
Surprisingly little. Going into it expecting a straight Wodehouse parody will probably leave you feeling a little bit empty. It’s also completely futile to attempt a parody of Wodehouse because nothing anyone could write would ever be funnier than the source material.
Eddie Spangler is ultimately more like the brain-dead idiots from The Drones Club than Bertie himself. Jeeves can be a bit of a snob sometimes but is kind and goes above and beyond to help solve Bertie’s problems.
I would describe Jeffrey as actively malevolent. I’m very into weird aristocratic practices and wanted to be able to play around with some of the more stupid elements of British high society in play format. Using the characters of Jeeves and Wooster as a base, I extended them way, way beyond what we know and love.
Why have you gone for a ‘2.5 dimensional set’?
It was 83.3% the cost of a 3 dimensional set.
What are the challenges with writing, performing & producing your own play?
Even bigger than the 60 hour weeks, it makes you look like an arsehole. One of those thinks-he’s-Orson-Welles-but-is-actually-Tommy-Wiseau guys. It has the serious potential to ruin my street credibility.
Cream Tea and Incest runs from 10 to 28 April 2018 at the Hope Theatre, 2017 Upper Street, London N1 1RL, with performances (60 minutes) Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced £15 (concessions £12). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!