As Nicholas Collett says, he’s always had a fondness for Nelson.
“And I have always had a geeky interest in HMS Victory. And if your son asks you to write something, you do it!”
The result is Nelson – The Sailor’s Story, which plays Horsham’s Capitol on Saturday, October 3.
Amid Trafalgar’s smoke and din, the crew of the Victory strive to destroy the combined fleet of France and Spain – all presented as a one-man show written and performed by Nicholas, directed by Gavin Robertson with original soundtrack by Danny Bright.
“To go back to the start, what happened was a few years ago the director and producer Guy Masterson set me a challenge. I had seen Guy’s Under Milk Wood, and I was remarking what a great show it was as a solo show.
“Guy said: ‘You must have a one-man show as well.’ He said: ‘If you come back tomorrow with the idea for a one-man show, I will buy you a glass of malt whisky!’
“I had always wanted to do a show about the Battle for Britain for a long time. I dreamt up a show called Spitfire Solo about Battle of Britain pilots. I wrote it in 2011 and it has toured all over. It has done me very well in the past four years. I have done about 150 dates.
“And off the back of that, my son Tom, who is now 13 and has always been a big Napoleonic Wars fan, said: ‘You have got to do something about Nelson and Trafalgar.’ I didn’t want to do what would have been Spitfire Solo at Sea, so I had a sideways look at it and thought it would be really interesting to look at things through the eyes of the men who served Nelson.
“I got really interested when my collaborator Gavin said ‘How about looking for a modern parallel? Let’s find a story about a sailor now and see whether or not there are any parallels with what happened with sailors after Trafalgar.
“After Trafalgar, a lot of the navy were let go and ended up homeless, poor and starving…
“I found an amazing story about a Falklands vet who was sleeping rough in the centre of London and had pretty much been through all the Falklands and seen some pretty hairy things. We thought about showing him among the other stories. You have got Nelson’s take on things after 200 years, and his take is that nothing much has changed.
“I first did the show in Adelaide in Australia in October 2013 and then it stayed on the shelf until earlier this year when I did it at the Spring in Havant, not far from the Victory in Portsmouth.”
Call 01403 750220 or click here for tickets.
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