Decorative image of piles of scripts

Chris Neville-Smith

Things I've done for the stage

The First Sign of Madness

Nicki Noble as Joanna; photo credit: Janiece SpenceJoanna always dreamed of a scene like this: sitting on a park bench with Craig, flowers in her hands, admiring the view. For a long time, she never told him how she felt, but this time, she tells him everything she's ever wanted to say. But is he really listening? Who is she really talking to? And is this really the moment she imagined?


The First Sign of Madness was shown at:

Previews were shown at:

  • The Empty Shop on 18th June;
  • Middlesbrough Theatre Club Room 26th June;
  • City Theatre, Sunday 30th June.

NEW! Pictures

Sadly, I don't have any pictures of the performance itself. It was all hands on deck and we couldn't spare anyone for photos - you'll have to settle for the photos from the 2011 production in Durham. So instead, here are some pictures of us setting this play up this rest of the time.

Setting up for the first preview at The Empty Shop, Durham. This is getting real. My flyers are on the official Fringe desk ... And here's Nicki with my poster outside the venue. Me inside the entrance to Pauper's Pit.
Nicki and Me lugging the bench over half of Buxton to the venue. (Huge thanks to Linda Rolland for lending it.) Holy crap, it's on the blackboard! This is it. Me, Alan and Yvonne (Nicki's mum and general dogsbody) relaxing outside Buxton Pavillion halfway through the run. Me, Nicki and Alan in the Fringe Club after the run.

What they said

Before the Fringe:

This play was one of FringeReview's ten early picks for the Buxton Fringe. Yay.

Some audience feedback from the 2011 production:

"Very moving. Well acted and a very important subject. Nicki was fabulous."

"Most movingly entertaining dramatic monologue with equal mixture of sad patches and touching romance."

"Excellent ‐ brilliant acting and writing, great sound effects. The play moved me a great deal."

"Poignant and funny. Made me cry, partly due to the actress who was exceptional."

After the Fringe:

We got a rather nice write-up from the Buxton Fringe reviewers:

"This play opens with Joanna (Nicki Noble) and Craig (Chris Neville-Smith) sitting on a park bench with Joanna clutching a large bunch of tulips. Joanna sets the scene beautifully describing the electric pylons and cooling towers and admits she has dreamed of this moment!

She then expertly leads the conversation telling Craig everything she has always wanted to tell him, berating herself for not saying it sooner. Her sometimes amusing dialogue follows her relationship with Craig, the emotional turmoil and happy and sad moments. She demonstrates her love for him and her frustration at his seemingly passive approach to Sonia and his multiple break-ups with her. Craig sits, looks and says nothing in response and his facial expressions give little away but you start to make assumptions about who or what he is or isn't. The hints are subtle and you are never quite sure.

Alan Godfrey as the groundskeeper offers several clues to the situation, perhaps too many, but you are engrossed in Joanna's story which is both passionate and contrite and start to hope that the ending is not as you feared. But it is.

This was a very thought provoking play about wasted opportunities to say how you feel and although it leaves you with an overwhelming feeling of sadness, is very well written and portrayed. Worth a visit."

Sandra Cooper

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