Big Telly’s 25!

MILESTONE...Zoe Seaton, celebrating 25 years of Big Telly Theatre Company. CR6-154s
MILESTONE...Zoe Seaton, celebrating 25 years of Big Telly Theatre Company. CR6-154s

TEMPTATION, desire, cannibalism and immortality.

No, it’s not a typical Saturday night out in Portrush, but Melmoth the Wanderer, a terrifyingly brilliant new play that’s about to spook out audiences across Northern Ireland.

Produced by non-other than Portstewart company Big Telly, Melmoth the Wanderer is a spooky, surreal comic tale with a twist based on the famous Horror novel of the same name.

It tells the story of a stranger desperate to live a curse he has been lumbered with for an eternity, but who would be mad enough to take on the curse themselves and live forever?

Featuring squeaky toys (the scariest of inanimate objects), projections and animations, the spine-tingling Melmoth follows five desperate chancers as they face this nameless curse and try to change the course of things in their own way.

The subject of immortality is an apt one for Big Telly, the definitive regional theatre company, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

It’s a remarkable feat in any business, but as the fickle business of show goes, it’s something of a spooky miracle itself that Big Telly have not only survived for over a quarter of a century, but are still one of the most vital, exciting and consistently interesting theatre companies in the north of Ireland today.

From the hugely acclaimed water-bound antics of The Little Mermaid and Sinbad to the high farce of Puckoon to excursions into the unique genre of NI haunted musical drama, The Haunting of Helena Blunden, Big Telly has always produced thrilling and accessible theatre for all ages, tastes and shoe sizes and punched well above it’s weight whilst remaining fiercely committed to its regional origins.

Formed in Portstewart by three local drama graduates with big ideas back in the wilds of 1987, the company retains its base of operations in the town and draws from the vast reserve of often untapped theatrical talent in the area.

Big Telly has been making and taking life-enhancing performances across Northern Ireland and beyond since then to audiences as big as huge theatre auditoria and as small as a converted horse box!

Melmoth the Wanderer kicks off the Big Telly silver anniversary in typically madcap style inspired in equal parts by Saw, Alfred Hitchcock, Tim Burton and Fawlty Towers.

It demonstrates a company still unafraid to take risks and bring audiences to the edge of their seat even after a lifetime that’s already run the length of three average theatre companies.

As usual Big Telly drawn from the wealth of local talent and combined it with the leading artists in their field. This time around renowned mask maker and international theatre practitioner, John Wright has joined the creative team making Melmoth an unsettling visual spectacle to really remember.

Founding member and Big Telly Artistic Director Zoe Seaton has been there from the very start. She attributes Big Telly’s longevity to simply putting on great shows.

“It’s amazing. 25 years on and here we are! We are really thrilled to be presenting Melmoth the Wanderer as the follow up to the UK-wide success of our production of Puckoon.

“We are extremely proud to have been able to do this for so long. It’s a testimony to all the great people we have collaborated with over the years and the local hunger for great theatre that Big Telly is here in 2012 bigger than ever.

“Entertaining our audiences, and ourselves is what we have always been about and this production has certainly done the former. But it’s not about being hard work; we want to enthuse our audiences, engaging them in laughter and a few poignant moments of thought too.

“Big Telly are about quality performances that step outside the safety zone. And we think Melmoth will offer audiences something a little bit unexpected and totally thrilling!”

Melmoth the Wanderer is at the Riverside Theatre on Thursday, February 16. Bookings can be made through the theatre box office on 02870 123 123.