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UCLan student takes on theatre performance marathon

21 June 2013

Lyndsey Boardman

Jack challenges Ken Dodd for longest show

A student from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) is giving Ken Dodd a run for his money with a four hour one man show.

Jack Coverdale, a 26-year-old MA Performance student from Manchester, has knitted together four hours’ worth of jokes for his for his final degree theatre piece entitled Phantasmagoria.

Exploring the darker side of humour and in a way that’s intended to unsettle the audience, Jack’s show has a nostalgic look back on the culture of light entertainment with references to old styles of comedy that may not be accepted in today’s society.

Jack himself never makes an offensive joke and chooses to deliver the build up without the punch line, leaving the audience to make up their own minds of what that line should be and whether it’s appropriate to laugh or not?

His material comes from old joke books and Jack learnt the lengthy script over several months in several instalments.

He said: “It was a laborious process but my intention was always to challenge myself. “The performance is essentially about the relationship between the audience and the performer and because the piece runs continuously, the audience are invited to come and go as they please through the course of the day.”

“The performance is essentially about the relationship between the audience and the performer and because the piece runs continuously, the audience are invited to come and go as they please through the course of the day.”

Jack Coverdale

The artist’s work also looks back on old double acts such as Morecambe and Wise and asks what happens what one half of the act is no longer there?

There are references to death throughout the play and Jack uses six dolls with white faces placed around the room to seemingly deliver aspects of the dialogue suggesting an echo of the performer that’s gone.

Jack added: “There is probably more than one conclusion to be drawn from including the dolls and I like the ambiguity of it. It adds to the unsettling nature of the piece.”

Jack’s work has been shown at venues throughout the North West, including Manchester’s Contact Theatre, and he also curates and produces 'The Maps 2012 Project’; an annual arts festival and documentation project, for contemporary practice in the region.