Conor Doyle as Frankie



Conor Doyle as Frankie



Bulldog, or Leader of the Pack as I believe it’s officially known, was one of my favourite scenes in The Drowned Man. Consequently I saw it on each of my last three shows and, despite it being one of the lightest scenes, on my penultimate show it made me cry. What can I say? Everything made me cry by the end. I was gutted that the gates were closing, and this number had some particularly fond memories for me.

* Scrambling behind the Leader of the Pack set, then pressing myself against the wall as Frankie scrambles up to the window, fighting for his place in the limelight. Dwayne is all swaggering smugness as he takes the role of Bobby. He’s a wolf on the prowl.

* Andy, ambling backstage and passing Frankie. “Hey, Jimmy,” he says casually. “It’s Frankie,” the boy starlet spits back. Andy just shrugs. Like, whatever.

* Scampering, bent down and squealing, peeking through the windows of the set watching Bulldog from backstage. Organised chaos, a riot of twirling skirts, biker jackets and blue and white as characters darted behind doorways, dashing between the bedroom, the kitchen, the locker-room. They weaved between us pesky white masks, gently pushing us to the walls and out of their way.

* Three girls, Faye, Andrea and the Drugstore Girl, perched on the edge of a teenager’s bed. Their toes are pointed, legs swaying from side to side, heads tilting back and forth in time with the music, the original high-school musical.

* Andrea, lip-synching to The Shangri-Las, pulling Dwayne along by his collar. Fania Grigoriou’s knowing winks. Kirsty Arnold’s coy blinks.

* Already it’s fading. Dwayne had a leather jacket on, right? Collar popped up, smirking. He fancies himself way more than he fancies his leading lady.

* Have I made this up, or did Vinicius Salles’s Dwayne use to do the whole thing bare-chested? I never connected with Dwayne, but god, Vini was bloody great, wasn’t he?

* Frankie and Andy jiving into the kitchen, fingers clicking like a clean-cut version of the Jets. Their heads bob - a wholesome twist on the malevolent chicken-nod last seen at Stanford’s private party. Frankie’s blue and white baseball shirt. Andy’s blue and white varsity jacket with its beat up cracked leather and funniest of all, Andrew embroidered on the front in cursive script.

* The boys emerge into the bright-red locker-room, twirling their baseball bats above their heads before twirling their bodies, bats pointing down so they hit the set like girls with canes in a cabaret number.

* Drugstore Girl and Faye up on the bench beside them. Andy and Frankie rest their chins in the palm of their hands, shoulders shrugging from side to side as their hands switch over. As their hands leave the side of their face, Faye and the Drugstore Girl plant a chaste kiss on their cheeks. The motion is repeated, over and over, cheesy and cheesier.

* Andrea swoons as Dwayne emerges, buck-naked apart from a towel wrapped around his waist. As the song fades out she whips the towel from him. He saunters off, mooning the assembled white masks as he goes.

* And cut!

* Mr Stanford is delighted with Andrea’s performance. Fania Grigoriou, teacher’s pet, looks up demurely, dipping her head as she tucks her bob behind her ears, sucking up the boss’s praise. Andy and the Drugstore Girl immediately turn towards each other and resume their flirting. Faye and Frankie scowl as they drop the act and resume their fighting. Dwayne continues to be a complete dick (no pun intended).

It really was perfect.


I saw this scene probably um…. at least 40 times? And my summary would be something like “They dance in a cheesy 50s way and Dwayne moons the audience and then Frankie cries.”

Not that I didn’t appreciate the spectacle and how fabulously it was staged, just - no way would I be able to capture this level of detail in writing. You are amazing. :)


Sunday 29th June

Farewell, Frankie

I’ve said this before, but I will say it again. I hold drinkthehalo personally responsible for transforming my Punchdrunk appreciation into a full-blown addiction. I met her one afternoon in August and she gave me two pieces of advice. Check out Conor Doyle’s Frankie. Hang out with Rob McNeill’s Doctor. She might as well have told me to dive down the rabbithole head first without a parachute.

I’ve written about Conor Doyle’s Frankie twice before. But over almost an entire year of visiting Temple Studios I only looped the character three times; twice with Conor Doyle and once with Daniel Whiley. Frankie’s loop was traumatic, nasty and involved following a needy attention-junkie whose hunger for fame meant he allowed himself to be coerced, abused, degraded and humiliated. Watching Daniel Whiley felt exploitative. He was so young and green, every inch the wide-eyed. naive starlet. Conor Doyle’s interpretation was much more complicated and that’s what made it both powerful and difficult.

Still, there was something dear and charming about him, especially when he plucked me from the front of the stage one night in March and we danced side-by-side like two kids, shrugging our shoulders in unison, sniggering and smiling into Studio 3.

Doyle’s Frankie always struck me as a child starlet who’s heyday happened when he was still in middle-school. Adore Loomis, all grown-up. Makes you wonder if Homer Simpson actually did everyone a favour in The Day of the Locust.

There was a jaded, coke-addled edge to Doyle’s portrayal. The violent mood swings, the shrieking cackle, the overwhelming gratitude at being given a break by the Studios, plus the irrefutable fact that Conor Doyle is clearly a member of the 30+ club. There was something pathetic and distasteful about his ambition; the fact he’d do basically anything to be a star. It was miserable too, oppressive even - his Frankie moved through the Studios demanding extra oxygen for both his ego and his self-loathing.

But he was magnetic. Funny, weird and kind of naughty, he still possessed a childlike vulnerability precisely because he was so weak. Plus Conor Doyle has the charisma of a born star that made his Frankie completely compelling. On that last Sunday I stood inside the Seamstress’s shop, hands sticky with fake blood from a cinema handshake, breath catching in the back of my throat as his eyes bored into mine whispering Jeepers Creepers.

I won’t go into every detail of that last Frankie loop. I’ve written about it before, and besides, others have written about it far better (thank you drinkthehalo and whenwillweawake. But I want to remember two specific snapshots from those final shows, although truth be told, I know I’ll never forget them, with or without a recap.

I hate it when people use the word iconic - it’s a big word and rarely do the people or events they describe deserve it. But there are two dazzling moments in The Drowned Man that I think can carry the weight of that term.

I was in the basement, having run down the stairs following Claude and Frankie’s violent and seductive duet in Studio 5 (so wrong/so right). My intention had been to try and get a good spot for the private party, as I didn’t have many more opportunities to see it. But as I was heading down one of the corridors, I realised that this might also be my last chance to see something truly spectacular. I cut through the basement and stood in the narrow concrete corridor just outside Stanford’s little red anteroom. At the far end a door opened, a tall, lean figure framed in the doorway. There was that harsh clash of two electric guitar chords bleeding into one another, and in perfect time with the music, Frankie pressed his outstretched arms against the cold concrete and elevated his body off the floor. I’d only ever seen this standing behind him, watching as the muscles on the backs of his arms strained with the effort of crucifying himself to the sound of The Pink Room. That afternoon I faced him as he swayed between the walls, head bent down, staring out at me from beneath his brows, a cluster of white masks peering at me from the gloom. What a swell party.

I hated leaving Frankie in the Seamstress’s shop, perhaps one of the cruellest, most voyeuristic endings to any of the loops. So instead I decided to say my goodbyes backstage at Studio 5.

Alice Estee has just cast him in the role of Bobby, and they’re about to shoot Leader of the Pack. Frankie sits at the dressing table, lip-synching to The Floridians’s I Love Marie.

There was a time, when the stars would never ever shine, but now that you are mine, oh mine, the stars will always shiiiinnee!

He’s pumped up with the promise of super stardom, stripped to the waist, swigging liquor straight from the bottle, donning a pair of classic black sunglasses as he revels in his grade A awesomeness. He performs for himself in the mirror, like a teenager pretending at fame, adoring the image he’s created for himself. I stand behind him, watching his comic, exuberant reflection, giggling at his narcissism and totally loving it. When he stands behind the bedroom set, leaning up against the back wall posing in his shades, I’m grinning from ear to ear. He’s such an idiot. Such an endearing, sweet, messed-up idiot.

It’s a fantasy of course; the studios will betray him and Dwayne will be cast as the leading man. But just for those few minutes, Frankie feels like he has made it. And for that reason I watched this scene on Sunday, twice on Tuesday, and again at my final show. The last time I’m crying as much as I’m smiling.

I’m sure you knew that I would love this post, but I’ll say it anyway - I ADORE THIS. I dreamed about Frankie last night, I think because I read this yesterday. It’s so wonderful to hear your thoughtful, nuanced perspective on my favorite character. And what does it say about me that all those dark, disturbing layers that kept you away are the same reasons I followed him so very many times…?

I never thought to see that hallway moment as “The Pink Room” begins from the front - I had a moment when reading this of, “oh, next time I will go around to that side” … before I remembered there is no more next time. :( 

(Also, the afternoon in August when we met - it was almost  a year ago! Somehow it seems like last week, and like we’ve been friends forever…)

Happy 47th Birthday, Layne Staley. We miss you!

(Source: scarysonthewall, via fuckyeahaliceinchains)


This is Boy Witch, appraoching me for the 1-1, finally!  And then…    DOH!

Yeah I’ve experienced this so many times I pretty much just stopped going near there. Though all bets are off if I ever catch Conor Doyle in that role again.


This is Boy Witch, appraoching me for the 1-1, finally!  And then…    DOH!

Yeah I’ve experienced this so many times I pretty much just stopped going near there. Though all bets are off if I ever catch Conor Doyle in that role again.


Following on from the dream cast lists of priceyc and drinkthehalo…

There are so many performers missing here who I would have loved to include but could only imagine them in the roles they were cast in.

There are some performers here who I actually could not recast. If it ain’t broke… They…

OMG I WANT THIS SO BADLY. You are a genius.

Standing by the bar during the rave



OMG, perfect.


Happy places (x)

The cast game and why it’s so hard…

Assuming each cast member can only show up on the list once:

Mary – well it kind of has to be Kate Jackson because she goes with Paul Zivkovich, but then I really liked Laure Bachelot and wish I’d seen more of her so ALREADY I CAN’T DECIDE
Dwayne – … who cares? Um… Ali Goldsmith maybe? it’s just Dwayne.
Faye – I guess we can say Katie Lusby? don’t really care…
Harry – James Sobol Kelly
Grocer – Jesse Kovarsky was so good
Drugstore Girl – Sonya Cullingford, her 1:1 will haunt me forever
Badlands Jack – …IDK, River? No, I want River as Claude. Adam? He has to be Conrad. I didn’t love Sean. Nico? Or, maybe David? The German accent didn’t work so well, but David brought a lovely melancholy to the character….
Romola – Miranda Mac Letten was exceptional, but I wish I’d seen more of Katie McGuiness…
Mr Tuttle – Mateo Oxley, how can you choose anyone else? Most fucked-up 1:1 ever.
Gatekeeper – NO WAIT THIS HAS TO BE NICO, he was the most entertaining Gatekeeper by far
Seamstress – Annabeth Berkeley was great, but I wish I’d ever followed Kathryn McGarr or Kate Jackson
Doctor – Crap, I already put Rob McNeill as Andy. But never seeing Rob’s Doctor is one of my great regrets. So… Tomislav and his freaky big black eyes?
Miguel – ED WARNER.
Dust Witch – I never saw Katy Balfour, but heard she was the best. Bryony Perkins was the best Dust Witch I saw.
Wendy – Leslie Kraus, even though I adored Sophie Bortolussi… but tiny Leslie with her huge eyes and aching vulnerability is the most vivid Wendy in my memory
Marshall – See this game sucks, because I already used Jesse Kovarsky, so… James Finnemore
Dolores – Jane Leaney… but I would not complain about Sarah Dowling either
Andrea – Kirsty Arnold
Frankie – If you choose anyone other than Conor Doyle YOU ARE WRONG :P
Conrad – Adam Burton
Lila – Kath Duggan (though I still have a soft spot for Margarita Zafrilla, who was my first walk in/out)
Fool – OH MY GOD I USED PAUL ZIVKOVICH ALREADY WHAT AM I EVEN SUPPOSED TO PUT HERE. And I can’t use Rob McNeill either. Uh. How about we make it a cast swap show and Paul plays Fool the first half and William the rest of the show? SHUT UP IT COULD HAPPEN. (if I must choose someone other than Paul or Rob, it’s Hector btw BUT DON’T MAKE ME CHOOSE THAT)
Mr Stanford – Sam Booth
Claude Estee – I like River better with Conor (HE’S SO CREEPY AND PREDATORY OMG) but David Essing was the most sympathetic and layered version of Claude…
Alice Estee – Laura Harding kind of grew on me, despite how much I loved Emily originally
PA – Fania Grigoriou
Phoebe – Mia Mountain
Studio execs – Matthew Blake & Kathryn McGarr



And also. Ouch. I miss that place.

Love this.