We caught up with the young actor, Matthew Gordon, ahead of his socially-distanced run as Joe Spud in David Walliams favourite, Billionaire Boy
We all know live theatre has been crippled by lockdown rules and there’s no straight-forward route to normality, at the time of writing at any rate. Inventive outdoor performances are the only way currently and Birmingham Stage Company – the clever sticks behind Horrible Histories – have put together a super drive-in show that ticks all of the social distancing rules.
Matthew Gordon, who plays Joe Spud is delighted to get back on stage after being part of the initial run that began in September 2019 and was halted abruptly when the first lockdown hit. Having graduated from ARLA North in Wigan, Matthew stayed in Manchester for a time, but is now back on home turf in the Midlands. He says despite Billionaire Boy being cut short, he’s been lucky during lockdown picking up parts in productions like BBC’s Doctors among other TV work, but he can’t wait to get back on stage.
IN THE BUBBLE
Adhering to the strict rules of performing sounds a bit intense, mind you. Matthew says: “We all isolate beforehand and then form a working bubble, so essentially we’ll be living together on a tour bus. It is intense, but it’s essential so we can rehearse and perform as needed. We have to be in one another’s space to get the energy.”
In case you’ve been living under a rock, Billionaire Boy tells the story of Matthew’s character, Joe Spud who is 12 years old and the richest boy in the country. He has his own sports car, £100,000-a-week pocket money and two crocodiles as pets, but what Joe really wants is a friend. When he decides to leave his posh school and start at the local comprehensive, things don’t go as planned and life becomes a bit of a rollercoaster as Joe tries find the one thing money can’t buy.
Matthew was playing Derek in Tom Gates, also produced by Birmingham Stage Company, when he was asked to audition for Joe. Matthew says: “We can all imagine what we’d do if we had loads of money but all Joe wants is companionship and friendship.” Having originally been offered the part in May 2019, Matthew says it’s great to be back playing Joe.
Car Park Party launched in summer 2020 with Horrible Histories Barmy Britain followed by Car Park Panto performing Horrible Christmas to 40,000 family members in their cars across the UK. The concept is simple, the audience drive their cars into a designated spot, two metres apart of course. There’s a big screen on the stage as well as the live action to ensure maximum visibility for everyone and audio is listened to via car radios on an FM frequency – simple, but clever.
Neal Foster of Birmingham Stage Company and director of Billionaire Boy said: “It was wonderful to be part of a magical enterprise in 2020 bringing live theatre to families desperate for the joy and connection theatre provides, so we are delighted to be presenting our production of one of David Walliams’ most popular stories which began its national tour in 2019 and was abruptly halted by Covid. The show’s actors are thrilled with the opportunity to return to a new stage with a story that demonstrates the importance of friends and family at this critical time for the world”.