Thieves Like Us. From the author. Carly Godfrey-Bridger
Primarily an actor, I studied drama at the City Lit in London and Melbourne Acting School, Australia. While in Melbourne I landed a big role in Richard III with a 'Theatre In Education' company. After that I continued auditioning and I managed to get a part in a short film, but that was it for ages.
Frustrated, I thought why not write a part you would like to do and see if you can collaborate with others. Then a brilliant opportunity came up. An event called 'The Screen Collective' was a chance to submit a short film which could be shot in one night. I entered a short called ‘Tainted Thoughts and Red Streaked Arms’ which was about two heroin addicts. Two weeks later the organiser wrote back to me saying “oh my god, everyone wants to do your film!" This is how my love of writing started.
Back in the UK I entered a prestigious screenplay writing competition held by The London Screenwriters. My short 'A Love Unrivalled' was long listed from 2000 down to 500. Unfortunately it did not make the final cut, but I remain proud considering it was the first worldwide competition I had entered.
The start of ‘Thieves like Us’
Through encouragement from Jim Thompson, I submitted a one act play to Harlow Theatre Company, but he completely surprised me by saying they wanted me to expand it. Writing a full length play has been a huge challenge, but I have been fully supported by Harlow Theatre Company specifically Bernard Moule.
Inspiration for the play
I have never really been one for conventional love stories. I have drawn a lot of inspiration from characters like Dexter, Martin Blank (Grosse Point Blank) and Leon. I am also a huge fan of Martin McDonagh’s ‘In Bruges’, Harold Pinter’s ‘The Dumb Waiter’ and Joe Orton’s ‘The Ruffian on the Stair’. These influences added to a desire to write a strong female lead and I have ended up with ‘Thieves like Us’. The love story of two villains! Underneath which lies the question - nature or nurture? What is it that makes us who we are? Our experiences? Or something we are born with? As Martin Blank says – “I wasn’t raised in a loving environment. But that’s not an excuse. It’s a reason”.
Review: Your Harlow. Feb 2014
By Siobhan Wood
THIEVES Like Us is a full-length play about the love story of two villains, written by local playwright Carly Godfrey-Bridger and directed by Bernard Moule. Carly was inspired by characters like TV detective, Dexter and by her desire to write a strong female lead. Before the show Bernard had kindly warned me that it was very much an adults-only production and so I enjoyed seeing him up on the stage as a slightly unsavory policeman giving a great performance alongside the very talented cast.
I wouldn’t normally start a review with the end but when the lights went up and the actors took a bow I felt as if I had been jolted out of the universe Carly and Bernard had created and I realised just how immersed I had been in their world. Yes, there is swearing and yes, it covers dark subject matter, but this exploration of anti-heroes and how they experience love and friendship in a gangster lifestyle that is unacceptable to society was intelligent, thought provoking and felt very real throughout.
There are many riveting plot twists along the way, some of which would be comfortable in a horror film. The consistent laugh out loud comedy along with occasionally stark commentary on the human existence makes the time fly and I was hooked from start to finish.
I don’t want to give anything away as I really recommend you go and see Thieves Like Us and it would be like someone describing The Usual Suspects to you before you have seen it, so I will just say that the entire cast should be proud and mention a few of my highlights.
Hercules, played by Drayk Li Wayer, is a cult character who I suppose brings to mind a hazy recollection of Moff from Human Traffic but Drayk deserves more than comparisons as it was his own performance that shone off the stage. Drayk’s portrayal of the coked-up raver was utterly likeable and it had a joyful quality that meant you forgave him all his flaws. If you haven’t met a Hercules in real life, after a few minutes of watching him on stage you’ll feel like you’ve known him forever.
Lee, played by Jody Randall, and Hercules’ scenes together were my personal favourites and proved how clever this play is in that there is no filler: if Lee sets up a joke for Hercules, you can guarantee he will have his own killer punch line soon after. Their conversations had a touch of Tarantino to them and they were very watchable. These two need their own show.
Steve Hannam, as Brian, was everything you would want in a father figure disguised as an underworld villain and his relationship with Olivia, the protagonist, was touching and believable.
Carly has managed to make each of her characters funny line after line in their own style and the script never lags. The audience was laughing throughout and it never felt like one element had been sacrificed for the sake of the other. At no point did I doubt the script, acting or storyline; the characters behaved exactly as they should.
It felt like there wasn’t a single word wasted and the callback jokes to earlier references were rewarding. The dialogue was colourful yet natural with many quotable lines which were memorable but I will not include here so I don’t spoil any of the jokes, of which there are many.
After the show a few audience members commented on how it was just like watching a film and it should definitely be made into one as we all agreed we would want to watch it again. It is very layered and I imagine you would appreciate new things with each viewing.
This was a solid production and anyone who loves real storytelling and gritty yet charming characters with depth will enjoy this. Tickets are still available for the performances running from 26-28th February and I think those of you who go will be really pleased you did. I look forward to seeing more from the Harlow Theatre Company and what Carly does next.