Into a bar in Manchester walks the manager of Cash Generator, railing at his world and the scroats who inhabit it. He's full of bitterness and hatred, holding up a theatrical metaphorical mirror to August 2011 when the whole of Britain, it seems, went Daily Mail following the nationwide riots.
Acclaimed playwright, Cathy Crabb, who has had her work performed at places like The Royal Exchange, The Library and The Lowry, dared to differ in her analysis of the riots…
"Facebook was full of Victorian rants at me and Daily Mail attitudes and all these crazy people were jumping on it as well" she recalls "There was a lot of this `scumbags' and `scroat' stuff being banded around and I felt that directly, because having a teenager who is in that limbo really hurt me.
"I felt like a Conscientious Objector" she adds "Like this was a very popular war and I had to stand up and be counted and say something; it was horrible wasn't it? I didn't agree with all this hatred, it was just demonising people and not getting down to what was really happening. It's so hard to stand up for the person who doesn't have a voice."
August 2011 inspired Cathy to write The Bubbler, a half hour play being premiered at The King's Arms this week in a double bill with Robert Sproat's Stunning The Punters, under the title Scroats From The Underground.
The Bubbler is centred on Peter, the manager of Cash Generator (played by Neil Bell), who is an ex-bank worker now fallen from grace. He's loosely based on Satan from John Milton's Paradise Lost…and the famous Satan line `Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven', has been remodelled to `Better to be the manager of Cash Generator than serve on the counter at NatWest'…
"He's based on the fall of Satan and all this bitterness in him is really apt" explains Cathy "He's so full of hatred and he's going on about scroats. He's really horrible but he's also enigmatic, which Satan was in the book. The play is actually quite funny and the message, if anything, is to get off the case of people who aren't asking for anything but kindness. They don't want your belongings or your tax, they're just living a different life to you."
Like Cathy Crabb's previously acclaimed play, Beautiful House, set in a Salford tower block, The Bubbler continues to challenge perceptions of the working class and the so-called `under class'. Bouncing off the Cash Generator manager is the bar man, Paul (played by Daniel Street Brown) with a infinitely different attitude to life.
The short play is set in Manchester, but it's a totally Salford production. Rehearsals have been at The Black Lion, it's being premiered at the Kings Arms, presented by Studio Salford and performed by Neil Bell's Eat Theatre, as the Salford drama scene shows its collective way of working, yet again.
Cathy explains that the slot for her play was originally intended for one of Neil's plays but he got a big part in the upcoming Downton Abbey series and couldn't complete. Instead she took the slot and wrote The Bubbler with Neil in mind for the lead part. The King's Arms, which staged her first ever play, is fast becoming the home of Cathy Crabb premieres.
"I just love it because the regulars go as well as people who like theatre" she recalls "I think my work has got a broad appeal so I just fitted in there. I'm from North Manchester but most of my time is spent in Salford. That's where I put everything on, that's where all my friends are, and my characters are based on friends. I'm a Salford writer really because this is where I'm based."
It's also where Cathy Crabb's top writing connects with the Salford psyche…
Scroats From The Underground performed by Eat Theatre
The Bubbler, written by Cathy Crabb, directed by Phil Dennison, starring Neil Bell and Daniel Street Brown with music by Billy Morley
Stunning The Punters, written by Robert Sproat
Kings Arms, Bloom Street
18th-21st April 7:30pm £7/£5
Further details and ticket booking link – click here
Photos by Jonathan Foulger www.foulgerphotography.co.uk