We no longer live in a world where making and performing a well-made play of three acts is deemed acceptable. With that in mind, writer Leo Butler has devised an intriguing riposte to Ibsen, Chekhov, et al. that is arguably more palatable to postmodern tastes. The quantities provided here should make approximately 90 minutes of self-reflexive theatre.

First, take some meaty subject matter (free-range and controversial, if available).

Have Sophia Clist design a set of tessellating triangles that mean everything and nothing. Add a sliced trampoline, at least one bed and random coat-stands.

Into the mix put three actors with a talent for accents and mimicry (Annie Fitzmaurice, Sophie Mercell and George Potts) and have them pretend to be a range of characters from history, science and popular culture. Stir vigorously using encouraging and enthusiastic directors (Paul Hunter and Stephen Harper).

Place another actor (Jack Hunter) on the front row of the auditorium so that the barrier between audience and performers is broken. Continue to highlight the absurdity of theatre by directly addressing the audience regularly.

Burst into song randomly to draw musicals into the pastiche that should by now be forming.

Throw in some symbolic, labelled props and upend a bed to become a prison cell, again highlighting the artifice and impermanence of theatre.

Add some slapstick stage combat, neon lighting effects and a range of musical genres, to taste.

Mix until suitably confused. Flashes of genius will still be visible.

Bake in the oven at 180°C and remove when done – most parts will be springy and light to the touch, though some impenetrable or overworked patches may remain.

Serve and remind your audience to buy a copy of your play on the way out.


All You need is LSD is produced by Told By an Idiot and Birmingham Repertory Theatre and appears at the Lowry Theatre, Salford until 10 November 2018.

Photo credit: Benkin Photography

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