Take 5 with theatre maker and 'master storyteller' Tim Crouch

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Brighton-based Tim Crouch has been performing at the Studio Theatre for more than 20 years. This month, he returns with his latest work, a one-man play called Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel. A smash hit at Edinburgh Fringe 2022, it’s described as “King Lear meets stand-up meets the metaverse”. Intrigued? We spoke to Tim to find out more…

Photography: Amy Gibson

1. In a five-star review of the play, The Scotsman called you a “master storyteller for our times”. What’s the story you’re telling in Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel?

How a story is told is also a story. Theatre is two stories for the price of one! The poster shows me with a VR headset on; you’d think this was a VR show where the visuals are generated digitally, but it’s not. There’s another story. I wanted to write about the experience that a lot of us had during lockdown (and increasingly have now) of existing behind screens. Also, it’s got jokes in it. Three stories for the price of one!

2. “Truth’s a dog must to kennel” is a line from Shakespeare’s King Lear. What can you tell us about the connection between the two plays?

The title is a line from the Fool in King Lear. (You don’t need to know King Lear!) I play a version of the Fool as a bitter, modern stand-up. The Fool in King Lear is a kind of artist who walks out halfway through the play – perhaps because the world he’s in can no longer support him.

During the pandemic a lot of artists walked out. Live art has not recovered since and might never. I parallel that modern sense of loss with the idea of the Fool‘s disappearance. Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel is a play about now. With jokes. 

3. You wear a VR headset during the performance. What will audiences experience?

I say that Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel is not a VR show but I think that every artwork has a kind of virtual reality in it; an imagined reality. I use the headset as a device to trigger the audience’s imagination. I wear it for part of the show and invite the audience to see what I ‘see’.

Too much theatre now has a sense of a screen between the audience and the stage. My work tries to remove the screen. This is a live show! Did I tell you there were jokes?

4. The play is described as “a powerful celebration of live performance and a skewering of the state we’re in now”. What would you like audiences to take from it?

I hope they will be entertained and moved. I hope they will be provoked to think about themselves and the world in a slightly different way. Everyone will ‘see’ this show differently because it works on the imaginary forces. This is a show for audiences more than spectators. You will see this show with your ears. Even the jokes.

5. We’re thrilled to have Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel as one of the first shows in the newly refurbished Studio Theatre. As a Brighton resident, what does it mean to you to perform at home, in such a historic venue?

I’ve lived in the same terraced house in Brighton for 25 years. It means everything to be able to walk to work. I first performed in the Studio Theatre in 2003 when it was the Pavilion Theatre. I’ve played that space many times since.

I’m looking forward to seeing what impact the refurbishment has had on the feel of the place as a performer - and for the audience, who won’t now have to cross the stage to get to the toilets! Brighton is a world class city and is finally getting some world class venues. No joke.

Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel comes to the Studio Theatre from 31 Jan to 3 Feb: