Intimate play at Strutts examines Lennon’s killer

NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.
NBENBE120319c2, local writer George gunby launching a short play festival, Belper.

By George Gunby

Belper Arts Festival

Imagine a man in his prison cell. Imagine the man has a visitor. Imagine that the visitor is the man he murdered.

Imagine that visitor is John Lennon. That’s the premise of a new play, Mind Games, to be premiered at the Strutts Centre in Belper, in October. Set in Chapman’s world and imagination, the drama investigates his demons and his relationships with

Lennon, God, his mother and his obsession with the book “Catcher In The Rye”.

The text is based upon prison documents and interviews with Chapman who has applied unsuccessfully for parole on seven occasions.

The parole board is due to hear his eighth application any day now. The case has always thrown up questions. Would Chapman still be in prison if he had killed someone other than Lennon? If he was given parole would he be safe in the outside world?

The most common question consists of just one word. Why?At this point I had better declare an interest. I wrote Mind Games and, for a couple of years, it lay in the proverbial drawer.

Fresh from his successes with “Nickleby”, “Belper Passion” and “Annie Get Your Gun”, Larry Waller asked to read it and saw a spark in it that lit his creative directorial fire.

If your image of amateur dramatics is of chilly wooden halls with equally wooden acting then rethink it.

For three months Larry, local actors and myself have collaborated and reworked the script to turn it into a theatrical experience. Everyone has been encouraged to put their ideas forward and those contributions have been outstanding.

Characters have been developed and defined from scratch. Now, after summer holidays, it’s time to hone and over the coming weeks, three times each week, that process will continue. Local composer James Oldrini is writing new and exciting music.

Lighting and sound is being designed by Louis and Jamie Vella who bring young eyes and ears to the production.

With just 50 seats per performance Mind Games is an intimate experience.

Performances will take place at the Strutts Centre, Derby Road, on October 23, 24 and 25 at 7.30pm.

Tickets go on sale from September 8 at £8 each.

Tickets can bought online at or by email to and by phone 07845 400914.