In Conversation with Miles Tredinnick Part 2
By Roz Laws
Miles Tredinnick, the writer of the comedy thriller TWIST currently on its first UK theatre tour, deserves a play about his own life. It would be filled with almost as many plot surprises as TWIST, a stylish thriller with a Tarantino edge. Here he talks soap secrets and rock stardom.
What can audiences expect from TWIST?
A wonderful evening's entertainment! There are so many twists in the plot, it's like a silver corkscrew. The way it unfolds isn't how people expect.
David, an accountant and wannabe writer, is married to a soap star. Sarah Seaton is the nation's favourite as the queen of Doctors and Nurses. David hates her and is writing a kiss and tell biography of her, then realises it would sell much better if she were dead, so he sets about planning her murder. But what you think is going to happen, doesn't happen.
Where did the idea come from?
I moved into a new place in Marylebone, London and discovered my next door neighbour was EastEnders star Wendy Richard. We shared a patio garden and became friends. Wendy was always saying she'd love to be in a thriller and I should write one for her. We were both huge fans of Columbo and I used that sort of formula in TWIST.
I based Sarah on a grand soap actress like Wendy or Noele Gordon in Crossroads, though she's not as nice as Wendy. I talked to her often about how it was going and she told me all about working on a soap, such as being picked up by a car at 5.30am to go to the studio.
Barbara Windsor lived really close by but she and Wendy always had separate cars to Elstree because they didn't get on well.
Where has TWIST been staged?
I wrote it in 1990 and it was first performed some years later in Hampstead for 15 weeks. It did well and took off as a published play, especially with theatre companies overseas. TWIST has been performed in Boston, Australia and South Africa, and the Indians love it. I don't mind if they change it to suit local audiences.
How has the play changed?
The technology has evolved a great deal! When we first staged TWIST, we had a VHS player on stage projecting a video on to a screen and it had to be synchronised exactly with the actors. We used to pray every night that the tape wouldn't get stuck, it was a nightmare.
Now it's much more hi-tech and so clever. Baroque Theatre are using digital projections to make it look like a comic book, with the play punctuated by images, text and music.
They want it to look like one of Quentin Tarantino's films. I haven't seen anything done like this before, it's very exciting. They're also using some of the music recorded by my old rock band, London.
How did you become a rock star?
Well, I wouldn't say that, exactly! I formed London in 1976 with, among others, Jon Moss who went on to Culture Club. I was the lead singer, called Riff Regan. We supported The Stranglers on a huge UK tour and it was very rock 'n' roll.
But the band broke up a year later and I drifted into writing comedy, for people like Frankie Howerd and TV shows like Birds of a Feather. I also became a London tour guide on an open-topped bus and was flown out to places like Las Vegas and Dubai to train other guides.
I suppose my life has taken a few unexpected twists...