Image of James the central character in I Could've Been Better

New show celebrates failure through dark humour

A new performance by a University of Exeter Drama lecturer that is somewhere between stand-up comedy and theatre is being performed at the Bikeshed Theatre, Exeter 30 October to 3 November.

Dr Anna Harpin's theatre company, Idiot Child, will be performing their new show I Could've Been Better, a simple if somewhat unusual story of love, loneliness, and trying to get things right. The play was devised and written by Dr Harpin and Jimmy Whiteaker, using a mixture of script writing and improvisation to create the piece which highlights the failure of everyday life.

It’s a story about James, a 33 year old man who enters an over 10’s swimming competition. The inspiration for telling the story comes from a desire to tell a tale about feeling inadequate and lonely. Dr Harpin explained: “We wanted to explore feelings that we felt were all too common, but also all too frequently denied. James is, in some ways, a representation of how we all perhaps secretly feel inside. I think we wanted to explore the strange beauty of failure in a theatrical and playful way.”

A sense of the beauty and value of failure informs Dr Harpin’s teaching undergraduate drama students at the University of Exeter. She said: “In the drama studio I am always keen to foster an atmosphere of possibility and this relies on it being a safe space in which to try and fail and to try again. I impress upon students that learning is a process of unknowing a great deal of the time. The rehearsal room has many valuable lessons for critical thinking in the seminar room, in its acceptance of ambiguity, uncertainty, and curiosity.”

I Could’ve Been Better has already received critical acclaim for its inventive dark humour and laugh-out-loud, yet shockingly sad tale of a young man in despair.  Following its recent success at the Bristol Old Vic, and after the performances in Exeter at The Bike Shed, the play will be staged at the Pleasance Theatre in London from 13 November.

Date: 31 October 2012