Lockdown series features Hove actor's traffic-warden alter ego

Hove-based actor Robert Cohen has been slipping into Quint, his traffic-warden alter ego, during lockdown.

Hove-based actor Robert Cohen
Hove-based actor Robert Cohen

Robert has taken the character from his stage show High Vis and created a new series, a set of 20 lockdown vlogs available on YouTube.

In them, Quint shares his thoughts on a variety of subjects, but in particular his frustration at being kept off the streets and away from his beloved vocation.

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The web series has gone out under the title Keeping the Faith: “The idea is his belief that traffic wardenry and the community are wanting him to go back out there.

“He wants people to know that he has not abandoned them and that he and his fellow wardens will be back out there soon.”

Robert has been writing, performing, editing and posting from his flat in Hove: “I’ve been one of the few people anywhere in the world creating new drama under the lockdown – and almost certainly the only person doing so here in Brighton during what should’ve been festival season.

“Quint is a very keen traffic warden, an ex-squaddie who seems to find himself on a mission, though possibly any old mission had it been thrust at him he would have taken up with equal vigour. But it has become his life.

“In the stage show he had been the victim of a stalker with an air gun shooting darts at his posterior, and he has been confined to base. His superiors are concerned about the shooting.

“He sees it as a traffic warden thing, but it turns out to be Quint thing. Someone is going after him specifically.

“He is not a very popular man. He is hard work. But I have found that I have got a bit of an affinity as an actor with unpopular characters or characters that are beyond the pale.”

Robert does another character who is a McCarthyite supergrass and another who is Hamlet’s uncle.

“I was wondering what was common with these characters and Quint and it is that they are all beyond the pale.

““They are people who for one reason or another are not very popular. Quint is someone who rubs people up the wrong way and doesn’t really realise how much he does so. I did the show in Edinburgh in 2014 and I have been doing it occasionally ever since.”

Robert added: “I spent the first month or so in lockdown doing various things and catching up on a lot of stuff, but when everyone was shaving off their beard for fear of spreading the virus, I held back because I had an inkling that I might be doing something with this character. I more or less started in late April and started doing this series of vlogs.

“Quint has been furloughed. History has repeated itself. He was previously out because of a nutty stalker. Now he is out because of government policy. He is just wanting to get back to his job.”

The episodes can be viewed on YouTube.

“I feel, at the risk of being a bit pompous, that it is a record of a moment in our national history. He is a fictional character, but he is going through a lot of the issues that we would recognise, the frustrations and so on. Some people have been in their element, being able to watch television all day. Other people have been deeply frustrated, and Quint is one of those people.”

But Robert has got Quint’s exit strategy worked out: “Throughout all the time I have been doing this, I have been keeping a beady eye on the streets, and at some point in early June, traffic wardens started reappearing. I am working up to releasing him back to the streets, like an injured animal that has been kept in captivity for its own good. He is going to be released back into the wild.”

All the other episodes to date are assembled here.


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