Phil Poole, Set Designer

Director, Claudine Sinnet, likes a challenge and has big ideas.  While most shows bring a suitcase full of props to the Fringe, not Claudine.  “She wanted a proper set for her first show at the Edinburgh Fringe and her new production company, Cry Havoc,” says Phil Poole, her set designer. Approximately fifteen minutes is allotted to erect the set for the 50 minute new play, Devil of Choice, by Maggie Bofill, a playwright from NYC. Phil explained that they must wait for the previous show to clear out before they set up — and everyone always runs late. Go figure.  Phil, an experienced professional set designer, worked with Claudine, also an experienced theater professional, to design a set that could be put up fast! He created what are called “bookend” flats.  These mobile walls are approximately 8’ x 3’, open like a book, and are self-standing without weights.  The three actors in the show engage in quick costume changes behind these bookend walls.  The 15-minute stage set up by the cast and limited crew includes erecting the bookends, plus setting all the props and costumes. Whew! 

So surely they had plenty of time before the actual performance to work out the techy bits, right?   Nope.  Two weeks earlier, they had a four-hour technical rehearsal where none of the actors were present.  Claudine and Phil and rest of her theater crew live in Brighton, UK while the actors reside in the United States. The Thursday before the show opened, the full cast had a one-hour dress run-through.  Only one hour! They engaged in what they call “top and tailing” the scenes.  The cast members would do a line or so at the beginning of each scene and then skip to the end of it in order to get lighting and sound clues right.  Then show time baby!  That’s it! I’m excited to actually go see the show now. 

UPDATE: The very adult themed drama was quite good. It was a small audience, and I believe I ended up chatting afterward with everyone who attended…and everyone liked it. Interesting story, well directed, good acting, nice set design, and great music. Definitely a solid show worthy of attending.