After a critically acclaimed season at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, one man show superstar Brendan Murphy is bringing his brand new show – Buffy Revamped to the Darlington Hippodrome for one night only on January 25th.
In this fast-paced new production Murphy brings the entire 144 episodes of the hit 90s TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as told through the eyes of the one person who knows it inside out… Spike. Created by comedian Brendan Murphy whose last show, FRIEND (The One with Gunther), recently won the award for Best Play in the World Wide Comedy Awards
Funny, satirical and bursting with 90s pop-culture references, it’s the perfect parody for Buffy aficionados and those who never enrolled at Sunnydale High alike. Critics acclaimed the show as “Virtuoso” “Riotously Funny” “Glorious” so we managed to grab some time with creator and star Brendan to find out more about him, the show and what fans can expect.
Buffy Vampire Slayer ran for Seven seasons and 144 episodes – how did you even begin to condense this down into 70 minutes ?
Well, it all starts with rewatching the full seven seasons. It's a tough job but someone's gotta do it! Writing the show from the point of view of Spike made it all a lot easier to figure out as he has such a clear personality, you can imagine what his opinion would be of any given situation. Then it's a case of taking the key narrative arcs and relationships, pairing them up with some of the most iconic "Big Bads" and unmissable "Monster of the Week" episodes and you're left with a first draft... In my case it was about 4 hours long. Thankfully that's since been whittled down to a speedy 70 (ish) minutes!
Whilst it ran in the 90’s it has become something of a cult phenomenon with the next generation too, do you find your audiences reflect this?
There's been a real variety in the audiences that we've had so far, I knew there'd be the original fan base of people in their 30s and 40s but I've had a surprising amount of people get in touch asking if they could bring their Buffy fanatic child along with them! We set the suggested age limit at 14+ due to the content dealt with in the show, but hadn't ever thought it would be a "family show" per se. And it's not just amongst fans of the original TV show - some of the most enjoyable feedback to hear is from the friends and partners that have never seen a single episode who leave our show excited to watch the full Sunnydale saga for themselves.
Do you ever get heckled or challenged by an uber-fan who thinks they know best, and if so how have you dealt with them ?
There's certainly been a few post-show discussions in the theatre bar, but luckily it's all stayed friendly so far! I'm fairly certain we've managed to nail all the facts and figures correctly but there's so much room for differing opinions in terms of why characters behaved in certain ways or what the original creative team were actually trying to say. It's always great to hear other points of view though, especially on something they clearly care so much about.
You’ve covered Friends and Buffy, have you got your eyes set on another piece of cult TV – perhaps Knight Rider from Kitts point of view ?
Such a good idea! I've always wanted to play a 1982 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am! I've actually recently started a rewatch of another one of my favourite cult TV shows which I'm hoping may result in my next parody show. I don't want to give too much away just in case someone swoops in there before me but let's just say... The truth is out there.
You took this show to the Edinburgh Fringe, how did it go (I’m presuming it went well, hence the tour, but you never can tell)
It was loads of fun. I love the Fringe and have been up pretty much every year since 2011. It's such a great opportunity to try out new ideas and connect with audiences in a way that isn't always so easy outside of the festival. We picked up some great reviews and even a couple of awards for Best One Person Show & Best Comedy Performance, all of which really helped gain the momentum to set up the UK tour we're embarking on now. Do you completely empty the ketchup bottle or is there a limit to which it’s no longer worth the effort to get the last drops out ?
Everyone has their limits. If it's a plastic squeezy bottle of ketchup I'm not going to bother cutting it in half to scrape out the last of it. If we're talking about a glass bottle of hot sauce, however, I may well add some water and give it a shake to make the most of the last drops. What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?
I've probably always been a little bit of an attention seeker but it wasn't until I was about 16 that my drama teacher suggested it might be something I could do as a career. People like Jim Carrey & Eddie Murphy were particular heroes while I was growing up, but when Buffy The Vampire Slayer came out I was instantly hooked. Comedy, drama and supernatural monsters on a Californian backdrop, what's not to love?!
Did you spend your Christmas & New Year binge watching old TV shows?
I do most of my TV watching while I'm away on tour, so I took a break from the telly over Christmas and made the most of seeing friends and family while stocking up on as many different types of potato based cuisine as humanly possible. I did, however, watch Elf for the first time. What a movie! That Will Ferrell guy is gonna go far. If you could host a dinner party with 4 guests (living or past) who would you invite?
Sarah Michelle Gellar, James Marsters, David Boreanaz and Alyson Hannigan. Then I think I'd probably just dissolve into the background and enjoy them catching up, like an absolute superfan weirdo. Whose phone call would you never ghost?
My agent. It's the co-dependent relationship that never gets old! Whose do you always ghost ?
The RSPB. What more do those birds want from me!? I have nothing left to give! (You should totally give to the RSPB if you can though, they do a great job. Also it'll make me feel less guilty when I eventually build up the courage to unsubscribe.)
What is the one thing you would lift from the 90’s and bring into 2023?
Buffy Summers! If anyone can save us, it's her. Also, maybe affordable housing, funding for the NHS and a less polarised political landscape? But in a fun way!
Buffy Revamped is at Darlington Hippodrome on January 25th, tickets available from https://www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk/whats-on/Buffy-Revamped or 01325 405405
photos by Steve Ullathorne