Playwright brings show to Gorleston for one night only extravaganza

The Sidcup Family Portrait, starring Gorleston actor Jonnie Bayfield. Picture: submitted The Sidcup Family Portrait, starring Gorleston actor Jonnie Bayfield. Picture: submitted

Thursday, February 20, 2014
5:14 PM

A talented young actor and playwright is preparing for a homecoming extravaganza when he brings his acclaimed comedy show to the east coast stage.

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Jonnie Bayfield is returning to his home town of Gorleston for a one-night-only performance of The Sidcup Family Portrait, an “absurd, silly” spectacle fuelled with music, improvisation and plenty of audience participation.

The basic storyline follows an aristocrat as he travels through time attempting to get money from his ancestors to pay his debts. But the show is different every night as the three-strong cast improvise their way through with suggestions from the crowd.

The show received five-star reviews when it debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2012 and was hugely popular when it returned for the Free Fringe last year.

And now Mr Bayfield is bringing it to the Pavilion Theatre.

The 21-year-old, who used to work at the Pier Gardens venue, said: “I’m really, really looking forward to coming back. Any excuse to come back is great.

“We have got a friend of mine, Percy’s Pearls, who plays old fashioned rock and roll doing the second half with us so it’s going to be a bit of an extravaganza.

“Hopefully we’re bringing a bit of a show that people might not have seen to a place where it might not come.”

Mr Bayfield, a former Cliff Park High School student, is staging the show at the Pavilion under his theatre company Caligula’s Alibi, which he founded in 2012 with friend Will Cowell after the pair graduated from East 15 Acting School in Essex.

Each performance of Sidcup is unique, he explained as the action on stage is governed by improvisation and audience interaction.

“It’s quite different to what’s out there. We laugh at our own jokes and we’re very silly and very honest,” he added.

“We’re laughing with the audience, we want them to be part of the show. If they want to shout out an idea we have to follow it.

“Improvisation is right up our street, even when we’re doing normal theatre. It just keeps things fresh, keeps things alive and makes it realistic.”

Alongside Sidcup and working in London - where he is now based - Mr Bayfield is also preparing to perform a specially-written play for the High Tide Festival in Suffolk. Limpets explores climate change in his trademark surreal fashion, and is set on a beach in Norfolk.

He said: “High Tide is a really good opportunity as it’s a really big festival. It’s nice they asked me to do it.”

■ The Sidcup Family Portrait is at the Pavilion Theatre on Saturday, February 22. Tickets at £7 (£5 for concessions) are available from the box office on 01493 662832 or by visiting www.gorlestonpavilion.co.uk

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