Chris Goode has woken up later than planned and is still waiting for the morning to reveal to him what sort of day this will be “There’s a lot of renegotiation that has to happen…” he is explaining to me “so we’ll do that throughout our conversation, it will be an interesting extra dimension.”
I can’t imagine someone I would rather ‘renegotiate’ my day with. Chatting to Goode on the phone and letting him lead me into new places of thought, I realise this is not a dissimilar experience to watching him recount The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley at the BAC last week. When talking to Goode or watching him perform, something about his gentle, funny, self effacing demeanour disarms you until you find you are happily swimming in a sea of what often end up being complex questions.
Whilst this seems to be an intrinsic part of who Goode is personally, he believes that for Wound Man and Shirley this style was particularly necessary. “I knew that I was going to be wanting to do something quite ticklish in terms of the story I tell, which if you were to apply it to two characters in a less magic realistic context would be a story that would alarm and disturb people…” In the character of Wound Man (“a character plainly not wholly of this world”) Goode was able to access a world of magical realism which softened the blow of a story that the Daily Mail would have had a field day with. “It helps people to get to a place where at the end of the show they are really rooting for essentially a relationship between a 14 year old boy and a 40 something year old man who just wears pants all day, you know there are a lot of gritty TV dramas that could be made out of that relationship.”
For Goode a large part of telling this story came from a need to encourage understanding that there may be different instances of the same category of event. As a teenager Goode had a close friendship with an older man of a similar sort to our two protagonists and he wanted to tackle the inherent demonization that people like his ‘villain’ the nosy Reg Parsley in his play instantly resort to “…there’s begun to be something really important for me about standing up for the possibility that that kind of relationship is not intrinsically harmful, obviously it’s a very vulnerable situation, it’s one where everyone’s right to be nervous but actually…I think there is a great deal of bravery on both sides of those relationships.”
It’s an incredible thing that in The Adventures of Wound Man and Shirley, this thorny subject only really pricks your consciousness with Goode’s down-to-earth yet whimsical style guiding you past those knee jerk reactions. Goode is both really pleased and slightly bemused by the almost universal waves of warmth audiences have given to this relationship “I do sometimes want to go ‘you do realise what I’m saying right? ‘You do realise what you’re cheering for?!’ and that’s kind of great…”