Interview with CANDY writer, Tim Fraser
by Tim Fraser
‘I hope audiences leave the theatre determined to listen to themselves, love themselves, and talk to others about their problems...What I really hope they don’t do is call their exes.’
What was the impetus for writing Candy?
I wrote the ten-minute short play Candy in a bit of a frenzy, desperate to write something passable for my film school grad showcase, fuelled by thoughts on romance and sexuality, the music of The Magnetic Fields, and an all-too-fast-approaching deadline. After putting on the short for a scratch night over a year later, actor Mike Waller and director Nico Rao Pimparé suggested we develop the story into a full-length play together. I ended up writing the first draft of the hour-long version in a similar but more prolonged frenzy, this time wanting to explore identity, male mental health, and how all-consuming infatuation and heartbreak can be. Though parts of the play have changed since then, Candy seems to be only getting more relevant as the conversation moves forward.
Can you introduce us to Will and where the audience meet him at the beginning of the show?
Will sees himself as a normal straight bloke: he likes drinking, women, video games and making people laugh. He’s got a steady job and thinks he’s happy enough… but then he falls head over heels in love with Candy – his best mate dressed in drag – and we start to see the cracks in this image he’s made for himself.
What has the development process been like? How much has Candy evolved through its previous runs at the King’s Head Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe?
With each iteration I’ve delved deeper into the themes and become more confident in exploring Will’s mental health and sexuality. I love being able to say with confidence that the play’s got stronger with every iteration. Compared to that first version at The King’s Head, there are more drastic tonal shifts in the play, and Will has even more of a defined arc, which makes the story play out more satisfyingly. Oh, and the ending’s a little different, but I won’t say too much about that…
What can audiences expect to feel when they leave the theatre?
At its heart, Candy is about Will’s relationship with himself, so I hope audiences leave the theatre determined to listen to themselves, love themselves, and talk to others about their problems, rather than keeping them all bottled inside. What I really hope they don’t do is call their exes.
What are the challenges/opportunities created through writing a one-person show?
In terms of challenges, you have to take extra care in making sure the play keeps the audience with it, that they’re hooked throughout, so it’s not just one bloke talking at them for an hour. Judging by the audience reactions to previous versions, we’ve managed to do that! The other challenge is getting people interested, because these days a lot of people are put off by one-person plays, and you kind of have to be like, “no trust me this one’s a good one!”.
But the opportunities far outweigh the difficulties. Mike being the only actor on stage means can really get deep down into the psyche of Will, into how he sees the world and himself; we can make the story very internal and subjective without it becoming boring or uneventful. By the end of the play, audiences feel a connection with Will that they wouldn’t feel if he had been chatting to another actor instead of them. It’s that connection with the audience that is really exciting to witness in every performance.
Following a hit run at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2022, Tim Fraser's acclaimed comedy-drama Candy makes its London debut, playing in Park90 from 22 Aug to 9 Sep. Find out more here.