Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #5

‘Doctor Who, Dirk, Douglas and me’

Our guest blogger this week is SUP’s very own Dirk, Paul Cresser

I was very excited when I heard that SUP was putting on a production of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. You see, when I was nine years old, I became a fan of Doctor Who and have remained a fan ever since. What my nine-year-old self didn’t know at the time was that the script editor of that series of Doctor Who was one Douglas Adams – just on the verge of achieving huge success and recognition from his most famous creation, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

pirate

Above: The Pirate Planet, from Doctor Who’s 16th season, was also written by Douglas Adams

That year’s series of Who  – the 17th season – included two stories written or co-written by Adams himself: the show’s most viewed (and arguably one of its best) stories City of Death and its least viewed story Shada – least viewed because BBC industrial action at the time meant the story was never finished and it wasn’t broadcast!

There have been many attempts over the years to bring Shada to life in a variety of formats – indeed, a complete version of the story using the existing footage complemented by animation voiced by the original actors is being released on DVD and Blu Ray by the BBC this December!

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Above: Looks familiar? Professor Chronotis in Episode 2 of the aborted Fourth Doctor story, Shada

The first attempt to salvage material from the ill-fated Shada was by Adams himself when he used several elements in his novel… Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. The story also incorporated elements from City of Death, so the play we are producing is not only in my opinion a distillation of good Douglas Adams, it’s also a distillation of what I consider to be good Doctor Who – and it really excites me to be part of that!

So with all that in mind, I was very keen to get involved – and was obviously delighted to be cast as Dirk.

The role has presented many challenges, not least the sheer volume of of lines to learn and the sometimes tongue-twisting dialogue. Being very familiar with some of the content (as I said, these stories have been with me for most of my life), there is a strong temptation to play things like Doctor Who. But Dirk, although he takes the Doctor-like role, is very much not the Doctor. He is his own character, even when speaking almost identical lines, so I have to avoid that temptation (well, mostly!). However, the character, along with the script and other elements of the production, contains many respectful nods not only to Doctor Who but other popular programmes and films of this genre – as well they should!

city-of-death

Above: Lalla Ward as Romana and Tom Baker in the marvellous City of Death, set mainly in Paris – classic Doctor Who’s highest rated story, not least because ITV was subject to industrial action during its original run in September and October 1979

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Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #4

This week: the view from rehearsals

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Up close and personal: Phil de Grouchy and Paul Jones hit the deck during a rehearsal for SUP’s Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency

Kerrie Brady plays Sergeant Gilks…

“I’m new to SUP. I’m really enjoying the play and the atmosphere during rehearsals. I haven’t carried out anything acting-related in over a year, the last time being my Drama A-Level, so I was looking for a theatre company to get back out there! SUP interested me because the information online described how often they performed and how experience wasn’t required. That made me feel really comfortable because it had been a while for me – and I do get quite nervous!

“The character I play is Sergeant Gilks, the police detective looking into a murder. Gilks has met Gently before so she’s well aware of his antics and gets frustrated with him. She becomes aware that Gently is looking into the murder as well, for his own strange reasons, but carries on regardless as she is professional – unlike how she perceives Gently to be. Dirk Gently feeds on the rigidity of Sergeant Gilks, which will provide some entertainment for the audience.”

Group

A recent SUP social at Ocean Village: Sophia is in the centre of the picture

Sophia Cameron is also appearing in her first SUP production…

“I joined SUP recently, and I’m also a member of the Committee. I’m very happy to have joined such a friendly and dedicated group which are serious about their craft, without forgetting that ultimately what the members want is to participate, learn, challenge themselves and have lots of fun in the process. I am a good example of this… having never acted before!

“The production of Dirk Gently is challenging and our director Lorraine is cracking on with a play with a four-billion-year time span and a cast that includes ghosts, aliens, Cambridge dons and, of course, murder – all without flinching one bit! Brave lady! As for me? Basically, I’m a dead body that gets interfered with, I dance the night away without a care in the world, and get invited to a posh do in all of my finery – though not necessarily in that order!”

Dirk Gently’s Casebook – File #3

This week: the interconnectedness of all things

Holism – from the Greek holos, “all, whole, entire”, is the idea that systems (physical, biological, chemical, social, economic, mental, linguistic, etc.) and their properties should be viewed as wholes, not just as a collection of parts

Everything is linked.

Dirk Gently describes himself as a holistic detective: that is, he aims to solve the whole crime and find the whole person (although it has to be said, his typical caseload does seem to mainly comprise of “messy divorces and missing cats”). It’s also interesting that his particular holistic approach involves running up extremely large expense accounts and then claiming that every item – visiting a tropical beach in the Bahamas for a few weeks, for instance – is a crucial part of his investigation.

connected

As Dirk himself explains, “Holistic refers to my conviction that what we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. I do not concern myself with such petty things as fingerprint powder, telltale pieces of pocket fluff and inane footprints. I see the solution to each problem as being detectable in the pattern and web of the whole. The connections between causes and effects are often much more subtle and complex than we, with our rough and ready understanding of the physical world, might naturally suppose.”

Clear? All will be (or won’t be) revealed on the Nuffield stage from 30th January to 3rd February 2018!

We’re delighted that tickets are selling pretty well already: to secure the seats that you want, you’re advised to book now using this link. And don’t forget to tell your friends, families, aliens and ghosts about the show!

We’ll finish with a Dirk fact, which may or may not be relevant to our story: did you know that ‘Dirk Gently’ is a pseudonym? The character’s birth name is actually Svlad Cjelli.

Next time: rehearsals update, including some strange images of The Birdie Song