“You’ve Got To Have Your Own Voice” – Ross Salvage Discusses His One-Act Comedy Drama, Drawing The Line

The final two winning plays of Newport Playgoers’ One-Act Play competition, Windows by Alice Lynch and Drawing the Line by Ross Salvage will be performed at Newport’s Dolman Theatre on Wednesday 6th April.

Ross Salvage is a retired primary school teacher from Cross Keys and now lives in Llangattock. He started writing in his spare time 20 years ago, having comedy sketches performed for two review shows, Newsrevue and The Treason Show. Since then, he has focused on script writing, reaching the last ten in the ITV Wales ‘It’s My Shout’ screenplay competition.

Drawing The Line is a comedy drama about Amy, a fastidiously tidy woman in her forties, who unexpectedly finds she her ordered life interrupted by someone with extreme opposite values. Here, Ross chats to Thomas Howells about the play.

Can you tell us about Drawing the Line?

The play was a twist on one of my favourite plays, The Odd Couple.  It’s American and played by two leads and I wondered what it would be like to switch two males (to) two females and then bring it over the Atlantic to Britain.

Really, you’ve got two misfits living in the same house, that’s really what the whole premise of the play is and obviously the dynamic between the two is hopefully what drives it along.

What did you find appealing about the subject?

You always need a little friction in a play I think (well do when I write) and I saw how in the film (The Odd Couple) Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau played off against each other and that actual natural odd couple performed.  That’s what drew me to it, if I could write something as quarter good as that I would be very happy. The two protagonists are such opposites and that’s what makes it fun to write.

What research did you do for the play?

I rewatched The Odd Couple strangely enough.  Although they are very different people to those in the play (Drawing the Line) you still get ideas of the dynamic that happens between the two lead actors and how they progress towards the end. My only dilemma was to either make it a happy or sad ending because I don’t usually do happy endings, but not giving the game away, this is a fairly happy ending.

Can you tell us about the characters that feature in Drawing the Line?

Amy is the person who owns the flat that Carys wants to live in. Amy’s a fastidious clean freak for better of another word, she’s very house proud, doesn’t like mess, she likes order, and she likes her life ordered.

Carys comes along and is exactly the opposite, she comes from the streets, she’s very disordered, but she’s still a very strong character.

You’ve got two very strong characters living in the same house with very different values, so for me that makes (the play) something I would like to watch. The characters are strong women and you’ve got the Parsons who’s a solicitor as a third character to help the plot move along.

Were there any challenges you faced while writing the play?

Don’t make it The Odd Couple. Don’t make it the same as the play in the back of my mind. You’ve got to have your own voice. I wanted it to be along the lines of The Odd Couple, hopefully that’s what I’m achieved.

What other works have you done?

I started by writing comedy sketches for Newsrevue in London and Treason show in Brighton. It was great fun and I got paid for it which was nice and very rare these days.

Then I wrote Tea at Five after doing a script writing course in Bridgend. I wrote Tea at Five which was first performed on the radio by Theatre Adhoc and then was performed as a stage play at Newport’s Dolman Theatre partly by the Newport Playgoers and directed by Lynne Phillips.  

I’ve had few competition wins; I’ve done a few monologues and a farce for Theatre AdHoc all of which you can see on YouTube. This is the first time I’ll have a play on the large stage. Tea of Five was done on the small stage, it was such a positive experience that’s what probably pulled me in to enter this competition as I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

How does it feel having something you’ve created performed on stage?

It’s good and it’s also nerve-wracking at the same time because once you’ve written something and then you give it to somebody else, it very much takes its own way in life. Therefore, you have an idea what it’s going to be like but then it changes completely. You hope it changes completely for the better, you can’t second guess. I’m very lucky, because most people don’t get the opportunity to have their play performed on stage. I’ve had some experience of having plays performed here and its been completely positive and I expect this to be the same.

What do you hope audiences will take away from seeing the production?

If they can walk out with a smile on their face, then great!

I don’t think there’s anything deep and meaningful about it, perhaps a case of learning how detente could happen in this world today. We could probably do with it and how been generous to someone who is not necessarily the ideal person you want to socialise with is something that is a credible thing to do.

If they enjoy it and have a nice hour watching it as they will with all the other plays and they walk out with a smile on their face that’s as much as I can ask for. Anything else is a bonus.

  • Drawing The Line and Windows runs at Newport’s Dolman Theatre from Wednesday 6th April until Friday 8th April at 7:15pm with a matinee on Saturday 9th April at 2pm.
  • To book tickets visit http://www.dolmantheatre.co.uk or call 01633 263670.

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