“Imagine watching an interrogation with a suspect who has a genius mind. You see the game being played and he [Stanley] knows you are watching.” Performer Aidan Valentine explains what caught his attention about evil/not evil genius at the heart of Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder. Read what he told us, then book your tickets!
The new one-man show runs at the Etcetera Theatre from 17 to 22 March 2020.
Stanley Young has been accused of murder. The perfect murder. This, of course, he denies. However, the cretins at the Crown Prosecution Service have asked Stanley to stage a reconstruction of the fateful day. Stanley has agreed, albeit against the wishes of his solicitor. He will carry out the reconstruction to demonstrate his intellectual superiority over those investigating the crime, and to prove his innocence – naturally. The question for you is – did he do it?
Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder is a murder mystery, an interrogation, a puzzle and a psychological study. Stanley plays a game with the other characters and the audience, leaving everyone guessing about his innocence or guilt. The play is aimed squarely at theatregoers aged 16 years and older, as it contains strong adult themes and strong language.
The play, written by Gavin Milnthorpe, is a stage adaptation of his own novel Stanley Young is Planning a Murder in a Very Precise and Intricate Manner, which has been described as “funny and unexpected”, “intricate and entertaining” and a “page-turning intricate read”.
Performer Valentine returns to the Etcetera Theatre, where he previously appeared in his own play A Calling in 2019. Other credits include Gangsta Granny (tour), Twelve (Waterloo East Theatre) and Lazarus Theatre Company’s The Bacchae at The Blue Elephant Theatre.
Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder runs at the Etcetera Theatre, 265 Camden High Street, Camden, London, NW1 7BU from 17-22 March, with performances Tuesday to Saturday 9pm, Sunday 8pm. Tickets are priced £12.65. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!!
Aidan Valentine on Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder
How did you come across Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder?
I did a short play festival in 2018, The INK Festival, that is staged in Halesworth (Suffolk) each year. The play I was in was written by Gavin Milnthorpe, who wrote the book that Stanley Young is based on. A short while after the festival he emailed me to ask if I could read the first draft of Stanley Young for him as he wanted to hear it out loud. So I said I would and I’m very glad I did, as immediately after reading it I was hooked.
What caught your attention about the play and made you choose to stage it?
The charm of Stanley, his mind and how he clearly loves playing games. Stanley is such an interesting character, because, like all interesting characters, there is something in their mind that makes them different and makes them operate slightly differently. He is a character that you can’t help but want to engage with even though every fibre of your being says you shouldn’t. I don’t mean in terms of fancying a bad boy or bad girl type of feeling, Stanley is on a completely different level to that. So I wanted to delve into and get inside his head. Also the chance to push myself and play six characters was a challenge I wanted.
What makes it different from other murder mystery shows?
Whether Stanley is innocent or guilty of what he has been accused of is left completely up to the audience. The audience is key. They are directly addressed from the start and throughout by Stanley. He very much knows they are there. With most murder mystery shows, by the end it is clear who did / didn’t do it. Or you see someone pay for their crimes. Or the suspect is very obvious / a stereotypical villain that fits in with what a criminal should be – they are from a poor family, have had a hard life, tough circumstances, grew up on the wrong estate, has been wronged so is taking revenge. This show focuses on the mind. This show puts the audience in a position of being the jury and allows them to be in touching distance of Stanley. Stanley shows you what the police think and tells you his side of the story. The rest is up to you. Imagine watching an interrogation with a suspect who has a genius mind. You see the game being played and he (Stanley) knows you are watching.
What challenges have you faced staging the show?
The main ones have been getting enough teddy bears, learning 18 pages of script and four different accents. Apart from that, things have gone smoothly so far, touch wood. The behind the scenes things have gone well and in terms of set, everything is quite minimal, as the focus is on the text and the battle of minds between Stanley and the police detective, who is called Ross.
Are you a fan of murder mysteries?
I am. Especially when the focus of the script is on the characters’ minds and intellect. The actual murder is never that interesting for me. It is more the battle of the minds and even better if the characters minds are slightly warped. My favourite modern one will always be Endeavour. I think in terms of acting, directing and script it is the best all round. In terms of characters, Poirot (D Suchet), Alice (from Luther) and Sherlock (J Brett version) are my three favourite characters of all time.
How are you feeling about performing it at The Etcetera Theatre?
Excited more than anything, as I have known for over a year I wanted to do this play. So I am excited to bring it to the stage, especially at The Etcetera Theatre as they are great there, the space is fab. I performed there last year and will always consider staging things there. The day before and on each performance I will, of course, be nervous, adrenaline-fueled, excited, terrified. But an actor should be those things before a performance, surely.
What can audiences expect form Stanley Young is Staging a Reconstruction of a Murder?
To find, in Stanley, a character that they are incredibly attracted to but extremely wary of at the same time. To want to spend more time with Stanley as he will hopefully give them a rush they haven’t experienced, but to then be on the tube and feel uncomfortable that they were attracted to him. To walk out of the theatre debating his innocence or guilt for many hours into the night with whoever they came with.
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