Sheffielder Dudley Rees is having great fun taking part in the mayhem that is the new play Never Try This At Home, coming to the city next week.
Dudley said: “It’s looking at the anarchy of Saturday morning TV from the era of Tiswas to later shows like Going Live and Live and Kicking.
“The theatre company Told By An Idiot is always interested in why things are being done live and the excitement in entertainment.
“Those shows were so thrown together at the last minute, anything could happen. The play also goes into darker places. We were seeing what would happen if anything went really wrong.”
And it can’t get much darker than when a presenter commits suicide on live TV, which in the play is the scenario that members of the cast and crew of a 1970s show called Shushi are looking back at.
Dudley said that the show has been a real thrill ride as a lot of the action is improvised.
“It’s been incredible and nerve-racking. You get a lot of pies in the face!
“As the show is set in the 1970s, the politics of it is deliberately questionable.
“We are looking at that era when you could do a lot of things that are not appropriate to do in terms of gender, race and all kinds of stuff.”
He added: “It’s funny but hopefully there are also some questions raised about what was going on then. A lot of that is in the media spotlight now.”
Dudley says that he plays a lowly television studio runner on Shushi, who has to take over presenting duties occasionally just to keep the show going.
He said that the intimate surroundings of the Studio mean that the audience can really get involved in the action.
He is used to performing in the Studio because, as a pupil at King Edward VII School, he acted in shows on that stage from the age of 13 to 18 as part of Sheffield Children’s Festival.
His inspirational drama teacher John Gallagher, who is still teaching at the school, was pretty ambitious in his choice of plays. Dudley appeared in The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Accidental Death of an Anarchist as a schoolboy at the Studio.
He said he is really looking forward to making his first appearance on stage in Sheffield since he left the city for drama school in Edinburgh.
Dudley first came across Told By An Idiot when he was a drama student in the Scottish capital in 2004. He said: “It was the best thing I saw in the three years I was in Edinburgh.”
It took a while and two auditions but eventually he joined the company, which has taken him to many places, including a six-month stint in the Finnish capital, Helsinki.
Dudley said: “At drama school they had a big focus on rehearsals and drilling into you the idea that something should be a certain way. Told By An Idiot are very interested in exploring an idea alongside the audience live in front of them.
“Things are often created so they will go wrong. It’s more engaging to see the actor performing in front of you, skilfully trying to work through a situation, than giving you something you’ve seen before.
“I almost felt that theatre was just like TV but on stage. That’s not interesting to anybody and there’s got to be a reason that a show isn’t on TV or film but live in front of you.”
Never Try This At Home is at the Crucible Studio next week from Tuesday tto Saturday.
Tickets: from the Crucible box office, call 0114 249 6000 or go online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk