Whacked! Press


In the second week of our definitive Edinburgh Festival preview, our critics pick the hottest tickets from the arenas of theatre, dance, opera and classical music. Plus, an all-star line-up is announced for this year's Edinburgh International Film Festival...


Described as a 'cinematic monologue set in the East End', this movie script-derived tale of a gangster's moll follows a summer of gangland overkill on screen, but boasts a highly plausible team including former TO news editor Tony Thompson (writer) and Oscar-winning Sandy Powell (costumes).
The Gilded Balloon, venue 38 (0131 226 2151)

Aug 4-28


Time Out 26 July 2000



1 January, 2000
After a lifetime of sitting in cinemas and saying 'I could do better than that', I'm going to give it a go. I'm going to make a short film. I decide to take all my holiday in the summer and attend an eight-week filmmaking course in New York starting in August.
Sarah McGuinness who opted for a sushi and mineral water diet in preparation for her role.
2 January
My girlfriend, Emma, announces, unexpectedly, that she is pregnant. Our baby is due on 19 August.
4 March
Emma and I reach a compromise. I sign up for a weekend directing course in London. I also get a vague idea for a short film about a gangster's moll. On the course I meet Sarah McGuinness, a former musician and theatre director who now wants to move into acting. I see her perform and decide she would be perfect for the part. I sit down to write but nothing comes. I give on on the moll and write a script based on a real-life road-rage incident.
18 April
I finish Rage! Sarah loves it but points out that the only parts are for Rastafarians. She asks about the moll piece. I tell her it's going well, then stare at a blank screen for a few hours.
27 April

I wake to find Sarah has left two messages on my voice mail and two more on my mobile phone. She sounds slightly panicky. I call her back.

'Tony, Hi. You know that piece you're writing'
I bite my tongue. 'Yeah'
'Well rather than ten minutes, do you think you could make it a monologue and stretch it to fifty minutes? If you could, we could take it to Edinburgh. The Gilded Balloon has one slot left. I need to know soon.'
'How soon.'
'Well, actually I needed to know yesterday. In fact, I've already said yes. We have until this afternoon to come up with a title and a blurb for the festival programme.'
After three hours of word association we come up with Whacked!, partly in tribute to my hero Neil LaBute, whose play Bash! I had seen a few weeks earlier. Our tag line is: 'A play about the thin line between loving someone and wanting to smash their face in with a baseball bat'. I still have no idea what it will actually be about.
10 May
I go through old interviews with gangsters and their girlfriends. What is they way their lifestyle mixes glamour and the mundane. I jot down a few ideas - cleaning cocaine off the kitchen table in order to serve dinner, being annoyed about someone being stabbed in your living room because you can't get the bloodstain out of the carpet.
16 May
Sarah starts calling in favours and working hard to get people excited about the project. She calls to tell me that Gari Jones might be willing to direct. I look up his cuttings. He is a long-time collaborator of Harold Pinter's - he directed him in The Caretaker. He's only 29! Sarah explains that she has sent him the Rage script and asks how Whacked! is coming. I change the subject.
18 May
Gari calls me. He loves Rage! He can't wait to read Whacked! Neither can I.
27 May
I don't know if it's any good. I send a few pages to some friends. The response is incredibly positive. I press on.
2 June
I feel I'm halfway there. I read it through and reach the end in 15 minutes. I start to panic.
4 June
Sarah calls to gently remind me that she needs at least six weeks to rehearse. And the script. I spend all day on it and write one new paragraph.
7 June
I come up with a sick twist. A really sick twist. I worry that it might be over the top. Then I meet Gari for the first time. He looks like a chain-smoking extra from Interview With a Vampire. He loves the twist. He starts asking detailed questions about the background of the character, Annie. It's an inspiration. I finish that same night.
8 June
There's a section in Whacked! where Annie describes in great detail a man being beaten to a pulp by her boyfriend. She does this in a matter-of-fact way as if she is talking about baking a cake. I wanted her doing something mundane so I had her going behind a screen and changing her clothes. Gari moves the scene to another part of the play where it has greater significance. He also points out that, as the character is alone, the screen is unnecessary. Sarah shrieks: 'You bastards' then joins a gym and goes on a sushi and mineral water diet.
10 June
Sarah calls to tell me that Sandy Powell, one of the world's most sought after costume designers, has agreed to work on Whacked! She won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love and also worked on Velvet Goldmine and Orlando. Good thing I didn't go to New York.
18 June
Sandy comes up with Annie's look. 'She's a bit like Victoria Beckham. Tacky but expensive.' Two days after delivering a brilliant costume, Sandy leaves to work on the new Scorsese film.
4 July
Rehearsals start. Gari takes Sarah through the text line by line. 'I want to make sure we have the right voice. I want Annie to be a real person.' Hearing the lines read out for the first time leads to a few rewrites and changes.
26 July
Disaster. The Gilded Balloon's programme puts Whacked! in its comedy section. On hearing the news, Gari speaks for all of us: 'But it's not fucking funny.'
Whacked! is at The Gilded Balloon II, 4-28 August



The Obserber Review 30 July 2000



Whacked! Press Quotes


"McGuinness's performance is understated and sexy...the end is a genuine surprise." - The List, Edinburgh

"McGuinness is engaging...an obvious talent." - The Stage

"A hypnotic performance, taut and evocative...as entertaining as it is amoral. (8/10)" - Radio Forth



Gilded Balloon Box Office: 0131 226 2151

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