Truly Exotic

Mystical. Magical. Inevitable. The exotic has arrived.

written by Frank I. Swannack and directed by Rhys Hayes

Set in the twenty-first and sixteenth-century London, Truly Exotic blurs the differences between the civilised English and foreign savage. It begins with a merchant masquerade, a physician of time and space, who has a business plan connecting two different time periods. He transports a twenty-first century prostitute to the sixteenth-century as a wench for her ability to please men from all cultures. For, in the sixteenth-century, a courtier has unsuccessfully led an English army against the Irish rebels. He has returned from Ireland too early and now needs to placate Queen Elizabeth I. In a London tavern, the courtier learns from the wench about a lost map charting an island rich in gold. It is a prize he knows would please the queen and even make him king. With the intention of attending business matters at the River Thames, the courtier meets the merchant masquerade selling exotica from the New World. After the merchant has advertised his wares, the two men exchange tales of exploits in foreign lands. From the merchant, the courtier learns about Anthroposia: a mysterious island bountiful in gold that bears a striking similarity to the wench’s lost map. He realises the merchant holds the key to truly pleasing the queen, but can the courtier afford the price?

The Cast

Martin Dimitrov (Narrator)

image2Originally from Bulgaria, Martin is a 23-year-old actor now Liverpool based. He has been cast in “One million tiny plays about Britain”, George Orwell’s “1984” and various Bulgarian plays. Martin has recently worked on the short films “Rambling melody” and “The take”. Currently a member of Liverpool Network Theatre Group, Martin is experienced in stage combat, boxing, kick-boxing, muay thai, karate, wrestling and systema. He also speaks Bulgarian, English and Russian, likes to sing and is interested in music, writing and directing. Although a self-trained actor, Martin is currently undertaking a drama course at university.

Chrissie Burns (Wench)

image3Having completed a three-year specialist course in dance and drama at IM Marsh College Liverpool, Chrissie graduated from the University of Newcastle with a B.Phil in drama and a Diploma in drama therapy. She then began a successful and happy career in teaching. For the past year, Chrissie has trained with Merseyside Academy of Drama performing at Liverpool’s Lantern theatre. From September, she joined The Actors Lab for part-time professional actor classes.

Laura Mutch (Courtier)

image4Laura is a 22-year-old student who is passionate about performing. In 2013, she began her Creative and Performing Arts course at Liverpool Hope University. Since moving to Liverpool, Laura has become a creative actress by combining practises from both music and drama. She has taken part in various performances ranging from musical theatre productions to contemporary art pieces, and is currently involved in filming for a web series to be shown later this year. Her experiences at university and living within Liverpool’s diverse cultural have enabled Laura to grow and mature as a performer. She feels very privileged to be part of ‘The Page to Stage Festival’ and to be cast in ‘Truly Exotic’.

Charles Britton (Merchant)

image5Charles is a 65-year-old with over 30 years acting experience. His recent roles include Mr Osbourne in Norwegian Wood (changes from a really nice man to an extreme bad man), Fred in Second chance saloon (plays a drunk at the bar throughout the whole play – not bad for a teetotal in real life), Richard in a musical version of The Devil rides out and Chief inspector Riley in Impact (a sort of Poirot character). A wide-ranging selection ideal for his role of the Merchant masquerade in ‘Truly Exotic’.

Melonie Bartosz, aka Meljoy Costume Design (Queen Elizabeth I/Truly Exotic)

image6Mel has a classic model/actress background (Granada TV. BBC. Albert Dock, Granada Sky) She was requested by Cubby Broccoli to audition for the James Bond film Octopussy (not sexy enough maaannn!!), as well as being the original ‘ASDA bum’ (‘before’ being boot-delicious was fashionable and ‘flat as a pancake’ was sooo it!!). Her TV appearances include Granada Reports/News night/Tony Wilson’s Other side of midnight. Mel has also modelled internationally having been crowned Miss Tenerife, whilst shooting a catalogue campaign photographed by David Bailey. More dubiously, she has been privately jetted to the home of ‘Shergar’s’ owner (spoiled rotten…thank you). Mel has enjoyed success with special effects – working on prosthetics for a celebrity advert, and inventing special ‘earthquake’ effects for the ‘motorola’ advertisements. Recently, Mel felt compelled to start a costume design business gradually introducing her designs to Manchester International Airport over a period of a few years and whenever an ‘ event’ needed to be celebrated (God bless the Chinese New Year…That’s where I met Truly Exotic’s writer, Frank!!). Her designs have been photographed world-wide. Her costume designs can be found at

The Director

image1Rhys Hayes trained at the Nina Gaskill’s School of Dance studying RAD Ballet and ISTD Modern. He was then awarded a scholarship at the Cambridge Performing Arts (also known as Bodywork Dance Company). His credits include the recent Hollywood movie ‘Molly Moon and the Book of Hypnosm’, a TV advert for Aldi as well as fashion shows and photo shoots for JD sports, Nike, Topman, River island, Jack Jones and Burton. He has also appeared in the West End Musical ‘What Happened To LaLa Shocke!,’ and performed on P&O Australia. Rhys has choreographed many shows with ‘Truly Exotic’ being the first play he has directed for the stage.

The Writer

image7Frank I. Swannack based the original one act play ‘Truly Exotic’ on his PhD research studying English Renaissance Literature at the University of Salford (2006-2010). He has since turned his PhD into a monograph Spenserian Lovesickness and the Lovesick Womb and is looking for a publisher. He also writes and edits Hobbinol’s Blog at ‘Truly Exotic’ is his first play and he is delighted to have it shown at the 2016 Page to Stage Festival from April 3rd – 17th. Frank is currently working on a play about being married to a Jamaican.