'Opposites in Common'

"Tired and uninspired is the last thing you want to be as a writer.

Yet Toni couldn’t be more so if she tried.

No money, no ideas and worst of all, she’s out of vodka, cake and fags.

When her publisher (affectionately known by her as ‘The Git’) sends her a surprise, it ends up being, not her preferred bottle or a royalties cheque, but Deepak. An accountant with an obsession about her and her writing; worse, a desire to be a writer - just like his reluctant heroine.

Although they couldn't be more different if they tried, this unlikely pairing soon come to discover that their differences are the thing which will ultimately bind them. Bound in a relationship which navigates laughter, tears and a passion for writing.

Despite all the odds, they end up united in the pursuit of the simple things we all hope for: to have a dream and to find a soulmate.

And in the process, discovering that opposites in reality, can have so much in common."

NB: Although a comedy, there are themes and language used which make it not suitable for children.

OiC Quote

The play premiered in 2024, playing at Millgate Arts Centre in Delph, Guide Bridge Theatre, Audenshaw and Studio 9 in Hyde.

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It featured Rachel Harrison and Hiten Patel. Directed by Martin Paul Roche.

Staging

This is a two act play. Act one is approx 45 minutes and act two approx 1 hour.

It is a single-set piece comprising a lounge in a modern flat/apartment which simply has to demonstrate a passage of time by variations in dressing.

Present day. No special requirements with tech, properties or wardrobe, all of which are indicated/suggested within the script. All tech cues are marked.

Toni: aged between 40-70. A woman of style, of attitude; aloof yet endearing, passionate and opinionated. She is distant due to life and conditioning. A loner yet yearning not to be. She has an anger at times which is not really her. An ignorance which is alien without her realising. She is immune to shocking herself so doesn't appreciate the effect she has on others. Initially, Deepak is a means to an end. But she eventually finds in him, a person whom she has never known; a soul which is initially alien and then, unexpectedly, a friend who helps her to find herself.
 
Deepak: aged late 20's to late 30's and of Indian heritage. A man who initially presents as naive, but with a nervous energy; hungry to find his place, his worth. Passionate, excited about what life could have in store if only his present life would allow it. In the end, he is finding himself and a meaning, a reason for who and what he is. He is setting out on a journey away from the world he knows but without planning it, Toni helps him to find his way to it and what the potential life might hold. Against the odds and every stereotype, these opposites really do attract.

Original artwork by Victoria Mironenko.

From the writer ...

The thing which I always find irksome when it comes to writing plays is the need for ‘people’ to want to categorise what you are and how you write. That then cascades into wanting to understand a play before they see it. But I do get that bit. They want to get a feel for whether it is their thing, whether they will like it; would they want to come to watch it? Wholly understandable, particularly with new writing.
That then leads me into an artificial conversation with ‘people’ about the piece, the motivation for it and the idea for the characters. With the way I write, it’s a conversation I didn’t even have with myself before I began to write the play. It would be easy to get a storyboard out, a plan, a sketch book and say, “Here you are, this is where it came from.” If only I used them.
And I can cope with the starter for ten: “So, what’s it about then?” That question always reminds me of the competitions on cereal boxes in the 1970s: “State in no more than 15 words why Wheatie Puffs are the best cereal in the world.” It’s for that question and reason, I’ve always maintained that the most important thing you will ever write is the synopsis or summary for a play and which goes on the cover or on a website. It is the sales pitch and in those few words it must grab the attention of a producer, director, actor and whet their appetite to know more. In a similar vein, that’s why I always have commissioned artwork for a play. That sales pitch and an intriguing visualisation of the plot and the concept all in one image must assist. And I have many examples where they have. If cover artwork and the synopsis are intrinsic in how we pick a holiday read from the thousands waving their dustcovers at us in duty free, there must be a synergy with a play? Likewise, the title, but that's a wholly different dark art.
The bit where it all begins to unravel is when you get the question “What other play is it like?”
“Well, none to be honest” isn’t the best reply and it rarely washes.
But it was the case with ‘Opposites in Common.’
I was pursued during a conversation to be pinned down and tried to resist but had to commit, coming out with the most obtuse, nonsensical thing ever.
“I suppose it’s a bit like ‘Pygmalion’ meets ‘Educating Rita.’ But not.”
“ I see.” I don’t think you do. I don’t, so why would you from that garbage?
At this point, I did consider if it might have been easier working in the wine trade.
“It’s a bit like a Cabernet, a tad Malbec-ish but certainly not a Rioja.”
No, definitely stick to plays.
On reflection, I did think that my one-liner, non-explanation wasn’t far off the mark.
My two characters in my play do have tasting notes of Higgins and Eliza, of Frank and Susan. But equally, they don’t. This is difficult.
I don’t ever set out to write something ‘like’ something else. But if you look long and deep into any writing, music, art, you can always find parallels, stylistic traits in a form which you think you recognise.
But I guess I can’t have it all ways.
To say your writing or a play is ‘like’ another could be a good thing – as long as folk like the other one too!
‘Opposites in Common’ – I hope – is borne out in the synopsis and the accompanying strap line. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It sets out to tell a personal story/journey and is hopefully, one which people will want to watch, to hear. An original work about two original and authentic characters within whom we might all recognise echoes, shadows of ourselves, our lives, our experiences or those of the people we know. Of light and darkness. Of humour and despair.
And in writing a piece about the writing process, it opens up an insight into a process in which the participants must offer up their souls, not just to write, but to understand why they do it. And that is a big ask we all face in life. Being ourselves or being something, someone else. Sacrificing our own aspirations for those of others.
It’s not a dramatized creative writing course (thank God), but perhaps, a window on relationships; where they come from, how we maintain them. Why they rise and fall. Of being remembered. How art can really imitate life and vice versa. And how that principle (for me) must be an element of the story writing and telling process for it to have authenticity. After all, every story you write has some part of your story within it, doesn't it?
So. ‘Pygmalion’ meets ‘Educating Rita?’
Maybe. Ish. In some respects. Perhaps. But not. Oh for God’s sake, just buy the Rioja.