phone mail2 facebook twitter play
The Doppel Gang – An Interview With Dominic Hedges

The Doppel Gang – An Interview With Dominic Hedges

3 January 2017 Belphoebe New  | Interviews

It’s the 1940s and The Blitz is tearing through London. In a small failing theatre, a group of performers devise a plan to gain success and make a quick buck by masquerading as The Marx Brothers. Fusing classic British comedy with the endless energy of the Marx Brothers, The Doppel Gang will curb January blues by transporting the audience back to wartime London and providing plenty of belly laughs. We spoke to the playwright Dominic Hedges about writing his first comedy play, his difficult relationship with word processors and how kids are generally better performers.

London Calling: Can you tell us a little about The Doppel Gang?
 
Dominic Hedges: It’s a wartime comedy which follows a double act trying to save their failing theatre. They stumble across an ingenious idea to masquerade themselves as the Marx Brothers for a one night show to make money, sort out dodgy debts and rationing cards. As the play goes on you start to wonder who is playing who and how much of this is what it seems to be.
 
It’s quite self referential as a piece. One of the characters has an obsession with the Marx Brothers, essentially because the American stuff was a lot funnier than the English stuff. It’s supposed to be a little bit of a reference to the Americans coming to Europe to help us with the war, and suddenly there was this influx of film, comedy and art. Culture became a lot more Americanised.
 
LC: Was it difficult to translate the Marx Brother’s style of comedy to the stage? 
 
DH: Yeah it was difficult, I didn’t want people to come and see it and just think ‘oh they’ve just ripped off Day At The Races (Marx Brothers film)’ When I wrote the Marx Brothers scenes I tried to see how much I could recall from memory, and how much I inherently knew.
 
LC: The Doppel Gang explores the idea of masquerade and impersonation. What drew you to exploring that in the play?
 
DH: Because I loved this idea, I think Alfred Hitchcock said it, ‘Acting is a shy man’s revenge.’ The idea of theatre making people who aren’t able to do what they want to do, and they literally become a character, and the relationships that develop between these people taking on a new persona on stage, communicating about real-life events through the art of performing.
 
LC: How is it different from your previous work?
 
DH: It’s comedy! One play I wrote was about sex trafficking, and you can’t get a lot of laughs out of that. It’s one thing to write about dark topics and find the humour in any situation, and it’s another thing writing an out-and-out comedy. Comedy scares me. When I see something that’s funny or makes me laugh, I’m a little kid backstage saying ‘how did you learn all the lines?’ I just don’t know how they do it. It’s also the first play I’ve written as purely a writer, the first thing I’ve written and handed over, which has been great because I don’t know comedy as well as the guys making it.
 
LC: What do you love most about playwriting?
 
DH: It’s the performed piece. I don’t want to sound like I’m being mean, but me and a word processor just don’t get on. The best thing about playwriting is sitting opposite someone else talking about it, or hearing my stuff being read aloud, there’s nothing like it. Really writing for me is the bit I have to get past to be able to create work with my peers and people I respect. I do like words and writing, but it’s not the best bit, let’s face it.
 
LC: You’ve worked closely with young people to create theatre. Why do you think it’s important for young people to engage with it?
 
DH: Generally children are better performers than adults are. It’s a bit of a misnomer that kids are playing all the time, I don’t think they do, I also think they are thinking a lot. Kids naturally have a yearning for performance, and I like working with young people because I don’t consider it young people’s theatre, it’s just theatre really. Even though I do write scripts for them, the majority of the work is done in the room, and within the process. Their playfulness is what makes it, I’m just sort of the go-between.
                            
The Doppel Gang runs 17 January – 11 February, tickets are £16 and £14 concessions. Find out more here.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Killing Time at Park Theatre

Killing Time at Park Theatre

In association with Park Theatre, Antony Eden's staging of Zoe Mills' first full-length play Killing Time is a witty comedy which reflects on life, death…

Passage/s at Victoria Miro

Passage/s at Victoria Miro

One imagines for some the idea of going to an art exhibition about the home seems completely paradoxical. We came to this gallery in order…

‘The truth is ridiculous, stranger than fiction!’ – An Interview with Max and Ivan

‘The truth is ridiculous, stranger than fiction!’ – An Interview with Max and Ivan

These days we’re used to seeing stand-up comedians appearing on stage solo. The current comedy landscape seems to be more about the confessional torrid realities of…

“I like plays that make you laugh then punch you in the gut” An Interview With Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino

“I like plays that make you laugh then punch you in the gut” An Interview With Playwright Lindsey Ferrentino

Lindsey Ferrentino is a critically acclaimed American playwright. After an extended, sold out off-Broadway run, her new play Ugly Lies The Bone comes to the…

‘My work is a statement of the times’ - An Interview with Arinzé Kene

‘My work is a statement of the times’ - An Interview with Arinzé Kene

As an actor, Arinzé Kene has an impressive CV, appearing in Eastenders, groundbreaking football drama The Pass and portraying an auror (wizard detective) in Fantastic Beasts…

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion

Sussex Modernism: Retreat and Rebellion

Tracing the presence of some of the prominent modernists in the unlikely rural setting they flocked in the early days of the twentieth century, Sussex…

Fire! Fire! at The Museum of London

Fire! Fire! at The Museum of London

It’s 1666, and inside a bakery on Pudding Lane a fire breaks out that sees the path of a developing city change irrevocably. The Great Fire…

February Family Roundup

February Family Roundup

Just when you’ve got them safely back into school, February is upon us and that means one thing: Half Term! Luckily there’s a fantastic range of…

February Theatre Roundup

February Theatre Roundup

It’s far too cold to do anything outside, so it’s time to cosy up inside and escape into some brilliant theatre. Despite being the month of…

Top 5: Storytelling Experiences in London

Top 5: Storytelling Experiences in London

The phrase storytelling is everywhere, from mainstream media to the worlds of marketing and business, as Joan Didion said “We tell ourselves stories in order to…

More inspiration...

Killing Time at Park Theatre

Killing Time at Park Theatre

Antony Eden's staging of Zoe Mills' first full-length play is a witty comedy which reflects on life, death and legacy in the time of social media.
Passage/s at Victoria Miro

Passage/s at Victoria Miro

Victoria Miro’s latest exhibition explores the work of Korean artist Do Ho Suh.
Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 at The Royal Academy

Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932 at The Royal Academy

This hugely ambitious exhibition from the Royal Academy explores the artistic response to The Russian Revolution and Stalinism.
‘The truth is ridiculous, stranger than fiction!’ – An Interview with Max and Ivan

‘The truth is ridiculous, stranger than fiction!’ – An Interview with Max and Ivan

We speak to character comedian duo Max and Ivan about their latest show Our Story, where instead of playing characters they'll be looking at their own unconventional childhood hobbies.
Top 5: Places to Escape from London in Under 40 mins

Top 5: Places to Escape from London in Under 40 mins

Londoners, this city can sometimes take its toll on the best of us. Luckily, there's tranquility and serenity just 30-40 minutes away from the city!

Your inbox deserves a little culture!