I met Mr Twonkey in the Soho Theatre Bar yesterday. He was on a two-day trip to London from Edinburgh to see the opening night of his play Jennifer’s Robot Arm, which is on for three days at the Bread & Roses venue in Clapham. I blogged about a read-through of the play in February.
Mr Twonkey wrote the play but does not appear in it.
He told me: “It’ll the the first time I’ve sat in the back of a theatre and watched people perform a play of mine without me in it. I think I’ll laugh because I’ll just be amazed it’s happening. – What am I putting these poor people through? – I’ve changed a few bits since you saw the read-through and it doesn’t have Auntie Myra in it any more. But we do have a guy who isn’t really a drag act who is going to dress up as a woman for us.”
“Isn’t a man who is not a drag act who dresses up as a woman a drag act by definition?” I asked.
“Mmmm…” said Twonkey.
Time Out has described his shows as “oddly entertaining and utterly bizarre” and my fellow Grouchy Club podcaster Kate Copstick says he “makes Edward Lear sound like the Six O’Clock News”
I had forgotten, but it turned out we were having a chat because he was plugging Twonkey’s Acid House Circus Tour – a fair title for two different shows in three different cities next month.
He is performing his new show Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop at the Brighton Fringe and last year’s show Twonkey’s Private Restaurant at London’s Soho Theatre and at the Prague Fringe.
“I was going to promote it as Twonkey Goes To Eastern Europe but they told me: It will be taken the wrong way.”
“Why?” I asked.
“I’ve no idea,” said Twonkey. “They said calling it ‘Eastern Europe’ might be offensive.”
He is appearing at the Divadlo na Prádle venue in Prague.
“Apparently,” Twonkey told me, “that means Theatre of Lingerie.”
I checked Google Translate when I got home and it reckoned Divadlo na Prádle simply means Theatre on Prádle. But then I did a search for ‘lingerie’ in Czech and it turns out that the Lingerie Football League is “a league of American football played by women”. It does not elaborate on what they wear as their team strip. One must never forget that the actual name of Prague is Praha and it can be almost as bizarre as Mr Twonkey.
Yesterday he showed me his flyer for the Prague show.
“Why,” I asked, “are you opening a can of tuna in the photograph?”
“Well,” he said, “I’ve been buying a lot of things from a prop store.”
“Specialising in fish?” I asked.
“I’m kind of addicted to the prop store,” he continued, “sometimes to the point where I buy the prop before I come up with the sketch or the…”
“Is there,” I asked, “much demand in the props world for half-opened tins of fish?”
“Not really,” he admitted, “and, to be honest, I haven’t been able to incorporate it into the show. But I suppose it suggests I’ve got a restaurant and the show is called Twonkey’s Private Restaurant. One of the problems in Edinburgh last year was that there was sometimes a bit of confusion because some people expected food.”
“What was the show’s origin?” I asked.
“I’ve always wanted to run a restaurant and a lot of my shows take place in outer space or in different dimensions, so I thought it would be good to just restrict myself to an actual place. Also it’s easier to do. You just need a tablecloth, some plastic food and a candle.”
“No cutlery?” I asked.
“It would be a bad idea,” replied Twonkey, “to give the audience knives.”
At this point, a drag artist wearing a bright red dress appeared in the Soho Theatre Bar; she had her own film crew following her around. Or him around.
“I like that show,” Twonkey told me.
“Which show is it?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Twonkey.
“Why,” I asked, “is your new show called Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop?”
“The idea,” he told me, “is I’ve been kicked out of the restaurant and I’m now been demoted to a…”
“Bishop?” I suggested.
“No,” said Twonkey, “I’m at the cheese and drinks counter of the log flume centre.”
“The log flume centre?” I asked.
“Yes,” he confirmed. “The log flume centre of a small hamlet. But it has a massive catchment area.”
‘Is the show built round props?” I asked.
“Yes. It’s got a big trick in it involving two cheese wheels an a chain and some pigs and some padlocks. It’s basically like an escape act, where a pig escapes from a mountain of cheese.”
“Can to do a re-cap here,” I asked. “… a pig?”
“Not a live pig,” Twonkey re-assured me.
“A dead pig?” I asked. “So is it a bacon sandwich?”
“It could be seen as a bacon sandwich,” he agreed.
“Though,” I said, “I suppose any pig can be seen as a bacon sandwich.”
“It is a humorous pig,” explained Twonkey. “It is made of rubber. I actually have eight of them, because I’m predicting something bad is going to happen to them. They are quite fragile. Last year, at the Private Restaurant, quite a few things got damaged. People kicked the bag and my puppet’s faces imploded and a balloon burst. So I keep being paranoid about the rubber pigs bursting. I’m also worried about… Can you take a hot air balloon onto an aeroplane?”
“Surely,” I suggested, “if you have a hot air balloon, you do not need an aeroplane?”
“It is only about a foot wide,” explained Twonkey.
“The aeroplane?” I asked.
“The balloon. I am worried that air pressure in the aeroplane will make it decrease in size or explode.”
“Can’t you deflate it?” I asked. “That’s how balloons work.”
“No. It’s permanently inflated.”
“If you have a permanently inflated balloon,” I suggested, “is that not really a ball?”
“Yes,” said Twonkey, “it could be classed as a ball. Have you ever known of exploding beachballs?’
“I have never,” I told him, “had exploding balls myself.”
“I am hoping,” said Twonkey, “that my balls won’t explode on the plane. The only reason I’m worried is that I have heard tales of women who have had breast implants… If they go on aeroplanes, apparently there is a chance their breasts will explode. I’m sure I have read that some woman blew up.”
“Could this be a new type of terrorist suicide bomber?” I asked. “Women with exploding bosoms.”
“Yeah, yeah,” said Twonkey. “I suppose no-one’s going to check at security, are they?”
At this point, the drag act in the red costume left the bar.