New Brighton play supports men who have suffered sexual abuse

Patrick Sandford
Patrick Sandford

A new play at the Brighton Fringe supports men who have experienced sexual abuse at any time in their lives

Groomed will be presented in partnership with Mankind, a Hove-based charity for male survivors, at Sweet Werks (Venue 18), May 20-26 at 3.25pm (75 mins).

Mankind CEO Martyn Terry Sullivan said: “I was approached by Patrick Sandford in 2015 after he had completed one of our therapeutic groups to invite me to see a private showing of Groomed, a play he had been writing for about ten years. I immediately saw its potential and gave it its public premiere at the fringe in 2016 where it won three awards. Patrick is pretty amazing, very animated and able to talk not only about his childhood abuse but how he has channelled that experience into a fascinating piece of theatre.”

Martyn said he felt theatre was “the perfect medium for raising awareness of what we do and trying to get a very tricky subject into the public domain.” Groomed asks: How can a truth be told? How can a secret be spoken? The piece is for anyone who believes that telling the truth can save your life. It comes written and performed by Patrick Sandford, accompanied by live saxophone.

“Based on the performer’s real-life experience, Groomed sees Patrick use his craft as a writer, an award-winning director, and for 25 years, the artistic director of the Nuffield Theatre Southampton, to share his childhood experience of being groomed, alongside two completely-different life stories, each equally revealing. Groomed weaves three compelling narratives, a betrayed schoolboy, a Japanese soldier and the inventor of the saxophone, into a revealing and profoundly-human statement. This is startling and powerful theatre, sometimes shocking but not for one moment depressing. The pace is swift; there is no time for self-pity.”

It features music by Simon Slater and is directed by Nancy Meckler, both Olivier-award nominees, Groomed is a blend of testimony and graphic narrative. It is a joyous celebration of the power of theatre and all the arts to transform human lives. The theatricality is bold, simple, fresh, and devastatingly honest. Now in its third year at the Brighton Fringe, the production’s raw emotional power has gripped audiences in Norway, UK and the USA. At the end the audience are pin-drop silent and then the conversations began…”

Groomed made its debut at the 2016 Brighton Fringe where it won three awards – the Bobby, Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award and the Fringe Guru Brighton Fringe Award for Theatre.

Martyn added: “Patrick has personal experience of Mankind and he invited me to a showcase performance of Groomed. The story is Patrick’s testimony, but the show has the power to change how we hear, think and talk about the sexual abuse of men and boys. I immediately knew that we had to support this production and am excited to bring it back to the Fringe for 2019.”

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