by Nicola Jones
As a teenager living in a small, but perfectly formed, rural market town, I remember complaining to an American tourist that ‘you can’t live on beauty.’ She was on a whistle-stop tour of historic Britain and had been waxing lyrical about my lovely home town. And she was right to. There was no denying that the place was indeed ‘quaint’ with it’s cobbled streets, medieval buildings, and ancient castle. But as far as my teenage self was concerned (and all the other stroppy teenagers were as one on this), ‘real’ life – as in exciting, pulsating, vibrant ‘real’ life – was happening somewhere else. Somewhere far away. Somewhere completely and utterly out of our reach.
As a result, the town, like many similar market towns, was rife with underage sex, drinking, drugs and petty crime. And unless your dream job included working at the trouser factory or long hours down at the chicken processing plant, the only certain means of escape seemed to be via higher education or the armed forces.
My play ‘Cold Cuts,’ part of Doubled Up at The REP on October 26th, is set in a remote hillside tea room on the outskirts of a similar (imagined) rural town. The story centres around three friends who grew up together – two of whom escaped as soon as they were able, and one who was forced by circumstances to stay behind. Frustrated by lack of opportunity, stuck in a succession of low-paid jobs, I wondered what lengths such a character might go to in order to make their mark on the world in a place where they felt the world never visited? ‘Cold Cuts’ looks a some of these choices, and deals with the fact that no matter how fast, or how far, you think you’ve run, your past is always ready to trip you up.