June 9, 2022 Rhiannon Ingle

Q&A: The Unforgettable Name

Presented by Joshua Val Martin is the unmissable one-man show based on a harrowing true tale, The Unforgettable Name.

After spending years living in university changing rooms, on his friend’s sofas, and his late-Grandad’s flea-infested house – Josh was so happy to have found the perfect affordable flat online.

Josh met the lovely landlord and paid the deposit there and then. The next day, the landlord went missing.

Many years later, Josh couldn’t forget his name: James Eaton James. With a few leads and too much time on his hands, Josh decided to become a private investigator and track down this man with The Unforgettable Name.

This is a new one-man show based on Josh’s own true story about a petty criminal and a pettier tenant that asks big questions of housing and homes. 

Read on for a deeper look into the weird and wonderful process behind Joshua’s brand-new show…

So, give us a little teaser about the upcoming one-man show, The Unforgettable Name…

Some years ago, I went to rent a flat for the first-time. I saw the flat and met the man who was renting it out, and it all seemed perfect. Later that day, I signed the contract and transferred the money for the deposit. Not long after and the man (and my money) went missing. This show is about taking the law into my own hands and tracking this man down.

This runs in parallel to my own housing story. I’ve lived in over twenty houses over the last ten years, including living above a gay pub, squatting a university building, working at a holiday camp in Devon and in an attic flat with views of the Sacre Coeur. They’ve offered me an eccentric collection of stories. However, there’s a little sadness in that I’ve rarely made the choice myself to move. It’s usually been external factors that have forced me out of one house and into searching for the next.

Hopefully these two elements connect, in that I’m exploring my relationship with housing, and my pursuit of a place to call home. 

This is also the first time I’m going to perform the show, and so it’s an experiment. It might be awful. It might become a landmark of contemporary British theatre. It might be just okay. I’m excited to be performing it in The Edge’s bar area, because I suspect (no actually, I hope) that it’ll be a beautiful high-energy mess, with a DIY conversational tone.

What inspired you to write an entire show about this tenant-landlord interaction?

It’s not so much about a relationship with landlords, but more broadly with housing. 

When I first started mentioning the idea to friends, they invariably wanted to share their horror stories. 

‘I couldn’t get social housing, as I wasn’t in the top vulnerability bracket’… ‘I’m freelance and work in the arts, so I can’t get a mortgage’… ‘I have a Landlord who told me I’d have to pay to fix the gas leak’… ‘when I was homeless I was told I wasn’t allowed to loiter in a public square’… 

Following on from that, is the play a wider comment or reflection about our current housing crisis?

Our relationship to housing is our relationship to space and money and power. It tells us who we are as a society. 

Though I should say, this show’s not a polemic. It’s just a collection of my personal stories, that hopefully expose some of these wounds and questions.

If you could say one thing right now to James Eaton James, the landlord, what would it be?

You’ll have to watch the show, to see what happened..!

What advice would you give other tenants who may have dealt with similar issues to you?

I’m absolutely no expert, and I’ve always been lucky, in that I’ve had friends and extended who’ve been there when I’ve needed them most. 

The charity Shelter gave me great help when I needed it most. Citizens Advice were also useful, and some of my friends were given support by ACORN.

The Jobcentre Plus I would go to in Stoke-on-Trent was absolutely useless, but perhaps the one near you is better managed. 

From dodgy and evasive landlords to a hunt for redemption and truth – I’m sure The Unforgettable Name will ring resonant with many people from all strands of society.

Be sure to catch Joshua’s show at The Edge, playing Thursday 7th July and Friday 8th July at 7:30 pm


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