Having had two highly successful previous runs at Soho Theatre in London, Kiell Smith-Bynoe and Ed MacArthur now bring their comedy musical extravaganza to audiences at the Edinburgh Fringe. String V SPITTA experiments with a pair of contrasting children's entertainers, forced together to perform for the birthday party of a lifetime.
Keep reading to hear what Ed and Kiell have to say on the subject...
What can you tell us about the show, and why was it appealing to you to write/star in it?
Ed: It’s a late night kids show…but for adults. It’s a musical comedy about two rival children’s entertainers, one East End rapper and one snobbish classical musician, forced to work together. The major appeal for me was working with Kiell. I remember the first time we wrote a song together six years ago, and my beautiful little mind was blown away by his speed of thought.
Kiell: Similarly to the characters, Ed and I have had very different upbringings, but still have the same taste in music and sense of humour. This makes the whole process not only easy, but hilarious.
What makes the concept of contrasting children's entertainers funny for audiences, and who would enjoy the piece?
Ed: We were both children’s entertainers at one time, and we used to find it very funny how seriously people took the job. We’ve been told the show is mad, but we think it’s pretty broad. Everyone can enjoy it, except those with ties to the Oligarchy.
Kiell: My guess is that 99% of the audience will have either had a children's entertainer at their party or watched one at someone else's. So there is an element of relatability, because we know how these things usually go. Spoiler alert, you have no idea how this one goes.
How do you mix some deeper themes with humour, magic, games and other kid's party fun to get a balance of each element in just 60 minutes?
Ed: We tried to go deeper without compromising too much on the silliness and the general frothy tone. Because we treat the audience as kids, it stops us getting too lofty and pompous. But we solve most of the world’s problems in the opening scene.
Kiell: The midpoint of the show is String watching SPITTA from the back of a party. The scene is
about 5 minutes long, but in those 5 minutes, we show magic, rapping, singing, jokes and quite a
tricky bit of audience participation. Let's just say it's ambitious!
With both of you being known for your work in TV comedy, how did you feel about bringing that knowledge to a stage musical?
Kiell: The show is basically all the things we couldn't get away with if there was a channel involved.
Ed, it's so lovely to meet you.
Ed: Kiell is one of the busiest people in television, while I identify as an out-of-work actor. So I’d have worked with literally anyone on literally anything. Fortunately for me, it happened to be working with Kiell on this.
Having had major successes with String V SPITTA already, and a commissioned BBC pilot, how do you plan on developing the show going forwards?
Ed: I’m very keen to make a hit TV show which captures the joyful spirit of the live show and then
retire IMMEDIATELY and take up base jumping.
Kiell: 5 series and a film? 5 series and a film.
Kiell, how have you found working on Ghosts, and embracing its huge reception? What are some of your favourite memories from working on the programme?
Ed: Can I answer this one? Kiell has found it to be a very pleasant way of spending the first ten weeks of the year. He just wishes he didn’t have to commute to Guildford. His favourite memory of filming was the day David Hasselhoff visited the set and insisted that they all go wild swimming.
Kiell: Ed, it's insane that you are able to answer that for me. We clearly spend too much time
Ed, having released your own comedic music alongside acting, is this another avenue you'd like to expand on in your multifaceted career?
Ed: I’ve got two albums on Spotify that I spent years writing and producing, called 'Humoresque' and 'Lyra'. They get about ten listens a month. Such an expensive waste of time.
Kiell: I actually listen 30 times a month, but on CD, so the numbers don't show. It is going to be really annoying when you are a multi-platinum selling artist and people are coming to the show for you, rather than because I turned an umbrella into a duck trap on television.
What has being in this production taught you about yourself, and what has been your proudest career moment in all?
Ed: Watching Kiell, I’ve learnt how to be more in the moment and stop worrying so much. He’s a natural performer, free from concern. I’m an unnatural performer with an over-active amygdala.
Sometimes I’ll be onstage, relishing the moment, and then realise I’ve not had the Kia serviced in 18
Kiell: I'm quite often counting how many of my friends are in the audience and wondering if the
restaurant will be okay to add another 4 chairs. We have a kind of cheat code with this show,
because we have created a world where nothing can really go wrong.
What is on your ultimate party playlist?
Ed: Anything by Oxford University’s Merton College Choir.
Kiell: Black Eye Peas - Don't Stop the Party, 10 hour YouTube version.
Massive thanks to both Ed and Kiell for this hilarious interview - the comedy acting scene is lucky to have you both. Have a fantastic run of the show, and a great time on future projects too!
Get tickets to the Edinburgh Fringe run of String V SPITTA here:
Additional thanks to Madelaine Bennett, Emily Leary and Amee Smith for coordinating this interview.