The Difficult Second Album: Ten Storey Love Song

By 27 January 2016Uncategorised


By Paul Smith, artistic director
From the Ten Storey Love Song poster,  by Caitlin McEvoy
“I don’t have to sell my soul
He’s already in me
I don’t need to sell my soul
He’s already in me
I want to be adored
I want to be adored”


Late last year I blogged about both the importance of making the work you believe in and how I felt about all things Edinburgh, including who we are making work for and to what purpose. Our show Weekend Rockstars had a brilliant time at the Fringe and, for me, received the perfect balance of Nice Things Said About It and Things Said That Made Me Want To Be Better, summed up best by articles like this one from Andrew Haydon.

Our next big show, Ten Storey Love Song, which we are hoping to once again take to Scotland, thanks to the amazing support of the Musical Theatre Network (cheers guys x), is our attempt to merge those two things together, while continuing to make work we believe in and which fulfils our objectives of making electric, ambitious theatre for Generation Y, with both a social and political function.

Ten Storey Love Song started life as a novel written by the brilliant Richard Milward, who also wrote Apples. It’s one of the best books I’ve read in years. As to be expected from Richard it’s bold in form, stunning in delivery and full of heart, humour and honesty. Described as “a love song to a loveless Teeside”, the novel follows the story of the inhabitants of a tower block in Middlesbrough called Peach House. Along the way we meet a myriad characters all trying to find love and happiness in a world where the route to either isn’t immediately obvious. It’s a free-flowing rollercoaster of reality offering a slice of life instantly recognisable as modern Britain, with all of its confusions and complexities.

Our adaptation has been written by the outstanding Luke Barnes, allowing us to rekindle our creative frisson amidst despairing text messages about our ever-declining football teams. Ten Storey Love Song would have been an early favourite in the Book Most Impossible To Stage competition yet, unsurprisingly, Luke has found a way to bring this story to life in a dynamic and unique fashion allowing us to build on the Good Night Out vibe of Weekend Rockstars.

We’ve also managed to secure the services of the infinitely talented James Orvis, formerly of Hull-favourites Paris XY. I first saw his band at the Freedom Festival a few years back and knew from that moment that I was desperate to work with James and create an electronic soundtrack with an authentic gig vibe. Our conversations so far have been great and I’m already buzzing for our soundtrack, influenced by the likes of The Stone Roses, The Doors, The Velvet Underground and a cacophony of ’90s rave tunes.

James Orvis. Photo by Hanna Marie.


The reasons for choosing Ten Storey Love Song as our “next smash hit” – The Guardian / “difficult second album” – The Guardian (delete as appropriate mid-August) are vast. Undoubtedly the play is provocative: sex and drug use are depicted in detail, there is strong language throughout and modern attitudes to mental health, race and class are also examined. I’m also especially interested in – and philosophically terrified of – responses to questions the piece will raise about the purpose of art, the role of critics, ‘LONDON’ and the commodification of working class artists.

Following recent internal conversations to do better in our presentation of realistic lead female characters we are working hard to present women who are neither weak, two-dimensional or subservient nor are they ‘strong’ women created purely to be ‘strong’. Richard’s writing allows us to meet the above challenges whilst still creating a piece of work which will be, above all, human, by which I mean funny, sad, challenging, heartbreaking, confused, disparate and flawed. Hopefully from the above you’re imagining Trainspotting-meets-Shameless-meets-Birdman? Good.

In the novel, Bobby The Artist’s artwork is discovered by a fancy London gallery propelling him from Peach House to the supposed bright lights of Clerkenwell. Bobby’s success leads to even greater fear and uncertainty about the work he is making and the reasons he is making it. He likes the success and the praise and wants it to continue, but feels the pressure of remaining true to himself. Never have the lyrics of the Stone Roses I Wanna Be Adored been more apt.

As we prepare to start rehearsals next week we already can’t wait to see how people will respond to Ten Storey Love Song. It’s a story for today, a story that perfectly encapsulates how it feels to be 20-something and trying to make your way in modern Britain and a story which requires a bold, electric approach in order to be told. I’m convinced it’s the natural progression from Weekend Rockstars and am excited to unleash it on the world. In the meantime, read everything Richard Milward has ever written. You won’t be disappointed.


Join the discussion One Comment

  • Martin Bennett says:

    Being a Teessider who read this book several years ago [and a former housemate of Mr. Orvis], I will definitely be heading over to Hull for this. Can’t wait. Well done guys!