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Free for All - extract from a new verse play by Richard O'Brien

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter

Free for All
An extract from a new verse play by Richard O'Brien

Kerry, a lifelong union rep, has been persuaded by her daughter Martha to attend an open evening for a new free school about to open in her area. Attempting to address some of her concerns, the school's headmaster has just compared his independent, 'Do-It-Yourself' approach to education to Kerry's own grass-roots activism.


It's very well promoting DIY,
but if that term is known for anything,
it's causing accidents. People get hurt,
you see, they smash themselves with hammers
in the thumb, splinters leap up and catch them
in the eye. Did you get Changing Rooms
in California? Here's the gist of it:
two families swap places for a week
and make adjustments to each other's homes.
In general, they were fine the way they were,
but everybody thinks they know what's best
for everybody else. And so a toff
who wears crushed velvet jackets into work
turns up and batters down your kitchen wall,
tears up your carpets, paints your bathroom pink,
and then you're left to deal with the mess.
But even they were experts. Hobbyists,
well, now, those were the really dangerous ones.
And there's a reason most work in the home
will still be done by trained professionals.
The risk you take by fobbing off skilled labour
and taking matters into your own hands
is ending up inside a waiting room,
your finger in a bowl of frozen peas.
Am I making myself clear, Mr Krill?



Free for All, by Richard O'Brien, runs at theSpace at Surgeons Hall from August 17th-29th, at 9:35pm, during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and is subsequently touring the Midlands (venues TBC). Haunted House Theatre are a profit-share company, and are running a crowd-funding campaign to pay performers' expenses, which closes on May 2nd:

Richard O'Brien's most recent pamphlet is A Bloody Mess (Dead Ink/Valley Press), and he won the first-ever London Book Fair Poetry Prize in the Sonnet category. He is a Midlands3Cities PhD student at the University of Birmingham's Shakespeare Institute, researching the development of verse drama.

Well Versed is edited by Jody Porter –
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