I went to a play with my brother-in-law, John, last night. He had sent a message a few days ago to say there was a play I might like to see on my visit, but that was all I knew. But I happily agreed to go along. After all, what fun is a long weekend in England if you don’t get out and enjoy the culture?
I honestly didn’t know what to expect from the night. The venue was the Newport Royal Navy Association Club. It seemed a bit of an odd place for a play, but they managed to set up a mini-theatre feel to the place. (I’ve never been there before, so maybe it always looks like that!)
My ticket told me that the play was called “The Tat Man”, but I still wasn’t sure what the play was about! Though it didn’t really matter because I was there and I was going to watch it no matter what.
And then this scraggly looking old man took the stage and began to ramble about tat, tat, and more tat.
Still unsure of the premise, I was waiting for more cast members to join him on stage. But instead, he grabbed a bit of tat from his tat bag and started to reminisce about it; he started to tell a story of a wee boy, born of a woman—and born again of a horse.
And then I realised it was a one-man show. Yes, the entire play was simply to be one tired old man telling the story of his life. And telling it with great flair, imagination, and passion. And throwing in a bit of acoustic guitar and song here-and-there.
I was captivated. I wanted to know more; I needed to know more.
As the play continued, I found myself aching for this man’s pain and loss. And I found myself wondering more about the man than he was telling. I wondered if he was a man with a drinking problem; a lonely man; a man with mental illness. I decided he was likely all of those things—and more. And it made me even more captivated because I wanted this man to be happy; I wanted him to have a happy ending.
As his stories continued, I was one of the many audience members with tears in their eyes. And when the play ended, I was in awe. I was in awe over how this one man, shouting down from his make-shift stage, could captivate an audience so well. I was in awe over how this tatty tat man won my heart.
Anyhow, I’m not going to tell you any more about the play because I don’t want to ruin it for you. Oh, well I will tell you that the full title is The Life and Times of the Tat Man, written by playwright David Calcutt for the Walsall Museum, with funding from the Arts Council. It starred Tony Barrett
If you get the chance to see it, you really should take the time (and your friends). And to whet your appetite, here’s a wee clip from the Walsall Museum’s YouTube page.
[Image credit to the Walsall Museum. This is a screenshot of the YouTube clip and is used in good faith.]