Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sketch Show Author Will Give Twist to Pub Nights; A New Theatre Company Has Taken over the Running of a Long-Standing Venue. SAM WONFOR Puts Some Toast on and Cracks Open a Tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sketch Show Author Will Give Twist to Pub Nights; A New Theatre Company Has Taken over the Running of a Long-Standing Venue. SAM WONFOR Puts Some Toast on and Cracks Open a Tin of Alphabetti Spaghetti

Article excerpt

Byline: SAM WONFOR

THE company is called Alphabetti Spaghetti and its first outing consisted - in the best possible way - of the silliest of sketch shows, called Teeth in Eggcups.

But founder of the outfit Ali Pritchard couldn't be more serious about what he's doing.

The 23-year-old Northumbria University graduate has recently taken over the running of the venue upstairs from the popular Dog and Parrot pub in Newcastle city centre, and is relishing the prospect of what that means.

Of course, being a writer and performer, and having a stage at your disposal, means you can pretty much put your own work in front of a crowd whenever you want.

But Guildford-bred Ali is someone who exudes a genuine passion for new work across the board, and has already located a season-full of stuff to fill the stage with.

You'll be seeing the newly-printed pamphlet circulating soon, featuring evenings of comedy, music, magic and theatre, which will all be happening in the refurbished room we're sitting in.

"Pub theatre is so popular across the UK - apart from Newcastle," he says. "Liverpool and Manchester have got hundreds of venues popping up. In London it's like the plague. That's why I wanted to do it up here, because I love the idea of going to have a pint with a mate and being able to watch a show for a fiver. That's what we wanted to offer."

Ali's relationship with the 100-standing capacity venue began last year following a successful run at the Edinburgh Free Fringe.

Having written the aforementioned sketch show as part of his script-writing degree, and put it on at the Mixer in Jesmond, Ali and his performance colleagues were encouraged to take it north of the border.

"Well, my tutor who came to see it basically bullied us into taking it up there," he laughs. "She thought it would be perfect for the Free Fringe, and we had a great time."

Staged on a "comedy bus", which offered standing upright challenges for Ali, the show was packed out for all 16 of its performances - the last of which saw them turning 80 people away.

They also garnered some great reviews - mentioned in the same sentence as Monty Python, don't you know - and used them as a jumping board.

Ali explains: "We came to Sam, the owner here, and said we'd like to do an Open Stage night once a month so that we could get our name out there and try new work. We started in October and it became really popular.

"So I then went to him and said I wanted to do a show here, but didn't like the way it looked so much. We did some DIY - painting, a few lights, that kinds of thing, which he very kindly paid for - and we did the show in February. …

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