ED2015 Cabaret ED2015 Interviews ED2015 Week0 Edition

House Of Blakewell: Happy, happy, happy

By | Published on Monday 3 August 2015

House Of Blakewell

House Of Blakewell are Harry Blake and Alice Keedwell, composer/songwriter and actor/singer respectively, and together an award winning cabaret duo who have won acclaim at venues and festivals across the land.
This Festival they make the bold claim that ‘We Can Make You Happy’. Yes, even on that rainy day when every show seems to be at the top of a hill, and you realise you’ve managed to book tickets for two shows that clash. We sat down with the duo to dissect the House, the show and happiness.

CC: So, let’s start at the very start. How was the House Of Blakewell built?
Alice: Over quite a few years of friendship and collaborating on different theatre projects… Basically, I was secretly waiting for Harry to write me some songs.
Harry: She kept saying ‘Harry, I want to be your muse’.
Alice: I was very subtle. Eventually we decided to try performing a few and it went surprisingly well. Blakewell is a combination of both our names, in case you hadn’t noticed.
Harry: Like Kimye or Jedward.
Alice: And we liked the idea of inviting people into our house.

CC: And why a show about happiness?
Harry: I wanted to write a show about economics…
Alice: Songs about capitalism are surprisingly funny but eventually happiness and fulfilment became a theme. #100happydays was a big thing on Instagram last year, and it made us think about the pressure to be happy
Harry: …and whether or not happiness was something you could achieve as an abstract goal.
Alice: I was also planning a wedding and that threw up a lot of interesting things about the pressure of being perfectly happy

CC: Let’s be more specific, ie what specific themes does the show cover?
Alice: Love, hope, dreams, friendship
Harry: Disappointment, loss, the futility of existence
Alice: It’s about two friends trying to find happiness in different ways. Alice believes she can achieve it with a positive attitude, some motivational quotes and an online mindfulness course.
Harry: Harry is trying to avoid disappointment by adopting German nihilist philosophy.

CC: What came first, the songs or the themes?
Alice: I’d say probably the themes with this show. Harry and I have developed how we work and now we try to discuss character, themes and structure before writing anything.
Harry: Sometimes I do come in with some random songs that don’t fit the narrative but they usually get cut in week two of rehearsals.
Alice: Like ‘The Battery Chicken Song’.
Harry: It’s a tragedy we’ve never shared that with a live audience
Alice: No it isn’t.

CC: How does a cabaret show compare to your other pursuits in music and theatre?
Harry: I’m a composer and sound designer for theatre and TV, so I spend a lot of time making moody soundscapes. Nevertheless, I like to think I bring a little bit of Broadway glamour to all my shows.
Alice: For me as a performer, it’s the most terrifying aspect of theatre I’ve ever done, but also the most rewarding. I learn a lot from every performance. It’s also amazing to create a show, as the opportunity to do that as an actor can be limited, though it does add more pressure!

CC: Does cabaret make you happier?
Alice: Yes, we love singing, dancing and trying to make people laugh. Interacting with a live audience is wonderful – when it works and people are happy that’s an amazing feeling.
Harry: I love cabaret because it’s an artform where the live element is absolutely essential. You can’t watch it at home on Netflix eating pizza.

CC: How could we make you happy this Fringe?
Harry: Be kind to people when they’re flyering. Especially us.
Alice: We’d love to see you at the show too.

CC: Other than seeing your show, what tips do you have for achieving happiness at the Festival?
Alice: Waterproof clothing. See loads of shows, the Fringe is an incredible thing to be a part of.
Harry: Occasionally treat your body to a glass of water. The curry at Mosque Kitchen is also amazing.

CC: The Fringe’s cabaret programme is always particularly exciting. Are there any other shows happening this year that you’d recommend?
Alice: We love – and I mean, love – Le Gateau Chocolat and have a major YouTube crush on Christina Bianco…
Harry: I’m going to find it hard to resist a repeat visit to ‘Margaret Thatcher Queen Of Soho’. But I also think it’s important to go and see something brand new by an artist you’ve never heard of – taking a risk and challenging yourself is all part of the magical Edinburgh experience.

CC: And finally, looking beyond August, what are your future plans for the show, for House Of Blakewell, and for bringing happiness to the world?
Harry: We’re going to make the world a happier place, one fringe festival at a time.
Alice: We’re planning a tour in 2016
Harry: Then we want to write a musical.

‘We Can Make You Happy’ was performed at Assembly George Squareat Edinburgh Festival 2015.

LINKS: houseofblakewell.com