Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Mark Barford: F*cking Men

By | Published on Thursday 3 December 2015


Following a previous highly successful run at the King’s Head, Joe Dipetrio’s ‘F*cking Men’ is back by popular demand. The critically acclaimed piece, loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘La Ronde’, returns in a slightly trimmed down form, helmed by a new director.
Despite the provocative title, there’s a great deal more to this play than, er, men fucking. To find out more about about this new production, I put some questions to that aforementioned new director, Mark Barford.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the play? Obviously the title probably gives things away a bit, but what is the story? Is there a central narrative?
MB: The story centres on the lives of ten male characters living in a modern world, and their sexual encounters with one another.

CM: What themes does the play focus on?
MB: The play’s central theme is connection, and the very human desires we have when we connect with someone.

CM: Obviously the title is mildly provocative, but would you say that this piece has the power to shock, at all?
MB: The title is certainly eye catching. The play itself, though, is more deep, funny and intelligent than perhaps the title leads you to believe.

CM: You are now the director, but in the previous run you were the AD on the show. Has the show changed significantly?
MB: I was employed as associate director on the first run of the show. I assisted the director to create the original, and then after opening night, I was responsible for looking after the show. When the show was extended I recast the play, rehearsed it on a new stage and shortened and tightened the piece. With a new production of this show I wanted to learn from the original, and make changes that would benefit the piece as a whole. I also wanted this version to feel more modern and so have updated the script and soundtrack, and have also made it more London-centric. We also intend to tour this production and so instead of ten actors it features three. This is a big change from the original as the three actors must now multi-role the ten characters in the play.

CM: What attracted you to the play in the first place? What made you want to work on it?
MB: At first it came as an opportunity to work with the King’s Head. I really admire the team there, and what they are about. Then I read the script and connected with the play, and more importantly, I could see how a modern audience would connect with it.

CM: Apparently it’s loosely based on Arthur Schnitzler’s ‘La Ronde’ – how much resemblance does it have to that play?
MB: ‘F*cking Men’ uses the daisy chain plot structure that ‘La Ronde’ has. This sees two characters feature at a time, and then one follows on into the next scene where a new character is then introduced. Joe Dipetrio, the writer of ‘F*cking Men’, has used this same structure, however the characters and their stories are different, and, as the title perhaps suggests, it is written from a gay perspective.

CM: What future plans are there for this production?
MB: We are hoping that it will tour next year however nothing is confirmed as yet.

CM: What’s next for you? Any new projects coming up?
MB: I am working on a piece as director with Ellandar Productions, and I am also in the process of writing a new work that I hope to produce next year.

‘F*cking Men’ is on at King’s Head from 5 Dec to 9 Jan. See this page here for info and to book tickets.

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Photo: Andreas Grieger