Regal roles

No less than three plays appearing at the Marlowe this season feature actors playing real life members of the Royal family. It’s in sharp contrast to how things were in the past, as Kate Evans discovers.

A scene from Handbagged by Moira Buffini ©Tristram Kenton

A scene from Handbagged by Moira Buffini
©Tristram Kenton

Once upon a time, portraying royalty on stage could be a dangerous business. Shakespeare’s Histories deal with long dead kings, and conflicts long since finished, but even that could still be controversial. In 1601, supporters of the Earl of Essex paid The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, Shakespeare’s company, forty shillings to perform the playwright’s Richard II- a tale of an ineffective king with no direct heir, whose throne is usurped by a stronger man for the good of the country. Dangerous stuff in late Elizabethan England, where the aging and increasingly unpopular Queen had no children to succeed her. Immediately after this performance. The Earl led a rebellion against the Queen. It failed, and he was executed. It’s not clear how much trouble this caused for The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, although they all seem to have retained their heads at least.

Given the name of Shakespeare’s troupe, it’s ironic that in 1624, just a few years after Shakespeare’s death, the Lord Chamberlain became Britain’s official censor of theatre. These powers were further extended with the Licensing Act of 1737, which essentially held sway until 1968 when the Theatres Act abolished censorship.

During this long period, portrayals of not just royalty but politicians (the 1737 Act was introduced largely to protect then Prime Minister Robert Walpole from satirists) and other eminent people were largely banned.  As late as the 1950’s, the Lord Chamberlain’s office was refusing to allow Queen Victoria to be portrayed on stage. A play like Handbagged, which features characterisations of both the Queen and Margaret Thatcher, would have been unthinkable in that era, in which most representations of living people were banned.

A scene from Handbagged by Moira Buffini @ Vaudeville Theatre. directed by Indhu Rubasingham. (Opening 10-04-14) ©Tristram Kenton 04/14 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email:

A scene from Handbagged by Moira Buffini @ Vaudeville Theatre. ©Tristram Kenton

Skipping forward, times have now changed so much that showing royalty onstage has moved from being banned to being a trend. As well as Handbagged (based on the weekly audiences between the Queen and Margaret Thatcher during her time as Prime Minister) our audiences at The Marlowe can look forward to seeing King Charles III (a ‘future history’ imagining the Prince of Wales’ first weeks as King) and a revival of Alan Bennett’s Single Spies. This latter is made up of two of Bennett’s one act plays about the notorious Cambridge Spy Ring. One of these, A Question of Attribution, features the Queen in conversation with Anthony Blunt, prior to his unmasking as a Russian secret agent.

The fashion, if that’s what it is, for featuring royalty, probably began with the great Dame Helen Mirren’s turn in the title role in the film ‘The Queen’, for which she won numerous awards, including a Best Actress Oscar. Interest in the monarch was further raised by the Diamond Jubilee in 2012, and a year later, Helen Mirren was once again playing the Queen, this time on stage in London’s West End, in new play The Audience.

What’s notable about all of these work, including the three playing at The Marlowe, it that all of the portrayals of royalty are respectful, even affectionate, in their tone – Spitting Image they are not. Even King Charles III, which deals with an imagined constitutional crisis during the early days of the new king’s reign, is very much not a hatchet job.

This was something that Robert Powell, who will play the title role, made clear to me when I interviewed him recently: “He’s a man for whom I have enormous respect [Robert is an Ambassador for The Prince’s Trust], which is a nice starting point. I can do an impersonation of him, because he has quite a lot of tics and mannerisms, but that’s not what we’re doing.” (You can read this interview in full in Spotlight, our magazine for Marlowe Friends). FYI, having heard Robert’s impression of Prince Charles, I can report that it is uncannily accurate.

Perhaps all these royal appearances on stage show where we’ve got to as a nation in our relationship with our monarchy – affectionate and respectful, rather than scared or grovelling.However you feel about the monarchy, do come along to The Marlowe and see for yourself.

Handbagged: WED 9-SAT 12 SEP BOOK NOW

King Charles III: TUE 27-SAT 31 OCT BOOK NOW

Single Spies: TUE 8- SAT 12 OCT BOOK NOW

Dancing through time

©Tristram Kenton

Our Marketing Publications Officer Kate Evans gives away her age with a look at eighties’ nostalgia…

Nostalgia, of course, is nothing new – it’s probably as old as humanity. When people first started building houses, there were probably people talking about the good old days when they used to live in a cave.

Slightly more recently, a whole industry has grown up to serve nostalgia. Sixties tribute shows have been a mainstay of the touring circuit for years – indeed, they’ve been so successful that many actual sixties bands (especially those that got ripped off by their managers back in the day) have been tempted out of retirement and back into the tour bus. Radio stations have sprung up all over the place, based on playing people the music they loved when they were fifteen (reputedly the year of our lives we feel most nostalgic about.)

Recently, we’ve seen the rise of eighties nostalgia. (Incidentally, why isn’t seventies nostalgia a thing? Was the decade really that awful?) As someone who grew up in that decade, it’s slightly alarming to realise I’m now a target audience for nostalgia shows.

Which brings me to Dirty Dancing. I wasn’t actually fifteen, when it came out in 1987 – I was nine (go on, do the maths on my age…I dare you) – far too young to see the film at the cinema, given it was a fifteen certificate. But even in those pre-internet days, video releases meant such niceties as age ratings could be ignored, and the film became a mainstay of sleepovers at friends’ houses long before any of us ever reached the age of fifteen. I loved the film back then, and – whether for reasons of nostalgia or not – I still do. And I’m far from the only one, as the success of the stage production has demonstrated.

Dirty Dancing UK tour - Lewis Kirk as 'Johnny' and ensemble - cTristram Kenton

Dirty Dancing UK tour – Lewis Kirk as ‘Johnny’ and ensemble – © Tristram Kenton

Of course, most of those coming to see the production are of a similar vintage to myself – putting Dirty Dancing firmly in the eighties nostalgia show bracket. Which is weird, given that it’s set in the sixties, even to the extent that it’s partly based on the real-life experiences of writer Eleanor Bergstein.

Thinking about the story now, what strikes me is that the whole story is actually an exercise in nostalgia in itself. Think about lead character Baby’s opening voiceover: “That was the summer of 1963. When everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind. That was before President Kennedy was shot, before the Beatles came…”  That line is nostalgia encapsulated in one sentence – looking back to something that felt like a more innocent time, to some mythic ‘before’.

But why did my generation (or at least the female half of it) come to invest so much in this story, set two and a half decades earlier? Well, I guess the themes of young love, and teenage rebellion are fairly universal. Perhaps it’s just a good story. Perhaps the nostalgic feel of the story has contributed to its longevity, meaning it’s survived in a way a story more obviously relevant to 1987 wouldn’t have. Either way, if you ever need anyone to carry a watermelon, you know where to find me.

Jessie Hart as ‘Baby’ (c) Tristram Kenton

Dirty Dancing is at The Marlowe Theatre until Saturday 22 August as part of a national tour.

One Last Waltz: a story about dementia

One Last Waltz

Something that I love about the Studio is how it really engages with issues that matter to people. One example of this is upcoming production One Last Waltz – a touching new play about living with dementia. Playwright Luke Adamson talks us through his personal inspiration for the piece.

One Last Waltz was an interesting play to write. Often when writing I set off at a million miles an hour and stall about five pages in with no idea where I’m going next but this was different.

I’d had an idea in my head for a while that I wanted to write a play mainly for actresses, I have never quite been satisfied with the female characters in my writing and there seems to be dearth of interesting parts in interesting plays for older actresses. So I set myself the challenge of writing a play that contained interesting, three dimensional characters for older actresses.

I began constructing the characters without any real idea where I was going to go with them and after a while I abandoned the early drafts and waited for some kind of inspiration. Unfortunately this came in the form of my Grandad’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Grandad had long been somewhat of an idol to me, I was even given the nickname “little Ernie” as a kid as I was so much like him. Living alone as a widower well into his eighties, he was battling on admirably but small things had started to happen.

He’d forget little things. Not big things like who we were or who he was, but small things, like where he’d put his keys, what he’d had for breakfast. We chalked this up to ‘growing old’ at first but then things started to happen that we couldn’t continue to ignore, putting metal things in the microwave or plastic in the oven, these moments of forgetfulness began to cause tension, often leading to arguments, with Grandad becoming even more flustered and confused.

The eventual diagnosis of Alzheimer’s came as quite a relief to me, suddenly we understood why these things were happening, why he’d forget or get confused, and once he started on the medication we saw an instant improvement. I was just frustrated that we hadn’t known these things earlier, that we hadn’t spotted it. We’d be getting angry with him, insisting that he try to remember where he had put his jumper rather than simply helping him to find it.

I was reflecting on this one evening when suddenly I saw how the characters that had been sitting inside my head could come together. I remembered once seeing an advert about Alzheimer’s that said “the earlier we spot it, the more of your loved one we can save” that always stuck with me but when it happened to us we didn’t know what we were looking out for! One Last Waltz is my way of using humour and emotion to try and signpost the things to look out for.

The character of Alice in the play went on to become a kind of amalgamation of my Grandad and his late wife; my Grandma and Alice’s daughter Mandy is heavily influenced by all of the strong northern women in my life.

A lot of the content in the play is based on real life experiences, some of the dialogue even lifted verbatim from actual conversations I’ve had. Some is, of course, embellished for the stage, some is complete fabrication. Once I knew what I wanted the play to achieve and how my characters were going to help me do this I sat down to write the play and finished it within a month, without stalling.

After a little fine tuning and editing we held a rehearsed reading to an invited audience in Leeds and based on their feedback I made some more changes resulting in the script we have now: hopefully a funny, moving and enlightening look at how to spot Alzheimer’s and how to deal with it. I was delighted when a representative from The Alzheimer’s Society read the script and (with a couple of minor adjustments to some of the dialogue) gave it their seal of approval.

One Last Waltz is, if you like, a tribute to my Grandad, as he is now, and as he was. Hopefully now immortalised in play form.

One Last Waltz comes to The Marlowe Studio on Thursday 8 October as part of a national tour. The performance will be followed by a discussion with the company.

Our guide to Glyndebourne: Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

In our previous blogpost we got to grips with opera company Glyndebourne: who they are, how they started and why they’re so very exciting for us. Now, Kate Evans takes us through each of the three productions they’ll be bringing to us in November, starting with Die Entführung aus dem Serail.

So, we should probably start with the title! It’s usually translated as ‘The Abduction From The Seraglio’, seraglio being another word for harem. Yes, we are in the world of the exotic Orient, as imagined by the West in the 18th century.

In this opera we follow the story of a Spanish nobleman, Belmonte, and his attempt to rescue his beloved, Konstanze, from the harem of the Turkish Pasha Selim. As you may guess from the title, singing is in German – but those non-German speakers among you will be pleased to learn that this production does have English supertitles!

Die Entführung is part of a great eighteenth century fascination with all things ‘Eastern’ – possibly triggered by the failed siege of Vienna by the Ottoman Turks in 1683. It reflects the contemporary view of the Orient as strange, opulent and dissolute – but being Mozart, it’s never simplistic, and has (small spoiler alert!) a surprise ending which turns the audience’s expectations on their heads.


Photo by Richard Hubert Smith.

So, that’s the plot – what about the music? The opera is in a style called ‘singspiel’, which means ‘sung play’. This means it contains spoken dialogue between its musical numbers, a bit like many modern musicals. It contains some of Mozart’s most spectacular and difficult to sing arias. The most famous aria is one sung by Konstanze whilst she is trapped in the Pasha’s harem – called Martern aller Arten (Tortures Of All Kinds). It is regarded as one of the great challenges for sopranos.

Mozart was just 26 when he wrote Die Entführung – an age when most composers would just be getting started, but Mozart was already something of a veteran. He was also desperate for money and needed to write something that would immediately be popular. First performed in Vienna in 1782, Die Entführung was exactly that  – despite the verdict of the Emperor Joseph II, who reportedly commented: “too many notes, my dear Mozart!”

Whatever the Emperor thought – Die Entführung has remained a hugely popular work – and this production has garnered some outstanding reviews. The Stage described it as ‘a vocal and visual treat’ whilst the Guardian said the production was ‘mesmerising’. We can’t wait!

Glyndebourne’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail comes to The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, on Wednesday 4 and Saturday 7 November, alongside performances of Don Pasquale and Saul.

Memories of Agatha Christie, from her grandson

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie: crime writer and loving grandmother

This September the legendary murder mystery, and the longest running show in theatre history, The Mousetrap, returns to us. We were really intrigued to find out about the modest, generous and enthusiastic woman behind these thrilling books and infamous plays, in this personal piece from Agatha Christie’s grandson Matthew Pritchard.

I suppose it took some time for it to sink in that I had a famous grandmother known to the world as Agatha Christie. I first remember her during the years when I was at preparatory school and her house at Wallingford was nearby. We used to have enjoyable ‘exeats’ on Sundays and it was, I think, then that the first glimmers of understanding came through.

Very sensibly, the headmaster of my school insisted on initialling all books that came into the school. I came back from Wallingford clutching the latest Agatha Christie and wondering, quite genuinely, whether the Head could possibly find any reason for withholding the coveted signature. He never did! There was, however, one occasion when my book took a terribly long time to re-appear. Later I realised that the headmaster’s wife had taken the opportunity to read it!

In such small ways, therefore, did I become aware that I had a talented grandmother. Not that it made a great deal of difference to me. She was just a marvellous grandmother and someone nice to have around. I think perhaps there were four things which, more than anything else endeared her to me. The first was her modesty. To the outside world I suppose this appeared as shyness, but to us she was always infinitely more interested in what we were thinking and doing than in herself.

She could manage to write a book almost without one noticing and sometimes she used to read the new one to us in the summer down in Devonshire. She did so partly, I suspect, to test audience reaction, but partly to entertain us on the inevitable wet afternoons when, no doubt, I was rather difficult to amuse. We all tried to guess, and my mother was the only one who was ever right. I think most of my friends who met her during those years were quite astonished that such a mild, gentle grandmother could really be the authoress of all those stories of intrigue, murder and jealousy.

The 60th Anniversary tour of The Mousetrap. Image: Liza Marie Dawson.

The 60th Anniversary tour of The Mousetrap. Image: Liza Marie Dawson.

Her next great characteristic was her generosity. It is by now well-known that she gave me [the rights to] The Mousetrap for my ninth birthday. I do not, I’m afraid, remember much about the actual presentation (if there was one) and probably nobody realised until much later what a marvellous present it was, but it is perhaps worth remembering that my grandmother had been through many times in her life when money was not plentiful.

It was therefore incredibly generous of her to give away such a play to her grandson, as in 1952 her books were only approaching the enormous success they have now become. It is also a mistake to think of her generosity only in terms of money. She loved giving pleasure to others – good food, a holiday, a present, or a birthday ode. She loved enjoying herself, and also to see others around her enjoying themselves.

The third thing I always enjoyed was her enthusiasm. Despite her modesty or shyness, it was never far below the surface. I think she always had a love/fright relationship with the theatre. Although I am sure she found the experience very wearing, she always enjoyed other people’s enthusiasm for her plays and found it infectious.

I went to The Mousetrap several times with her in varying company – family parties, girlfriends, and the Eton cricket team when I was captain in 1962. I would say we all enjoyed the play and my grandmother’s company in equal measure. But she was enthusiastic about other people’s plays as well, about archaeology, opera and perhaps above all about food! In short, she was an exciting person to be with because she always tried to look on the good side of things and people; she always found something to enthuse about.

When I had the pleasure of taking my own children, aged twelve and eleven, to The Mousetrap for the first time they enjoyed it tremendously, and crossed off assiduously in their programmes those whom they thought couldn’t have done it. It was a great evening for me, and would have been, I am sure, for my grandmother had she been there.

I think it tells us something about the success of the play, too: it contains so much for everybody – humour, drama, suspense and a jigsaw puzzle – suitable for all ages and taste; regrettably not too many plays on the London scene can say the same, and I sometimes feel that actors and actresses, anxious like everybody else for employment, must wish that there were more plays with universal appeal like this.

The 60th Anniversary tour of The Mousetrap. Image: Liza Marie Dawson.

The 60th Anniversary tour of The Mousetrap. Image: Liza Marie Dawson.

My grandmother died in January 1976. My family received hundreds of letters from all different walks of life and every part of the world, and I have never seen such a uniform expression of devotion and admiration. No doubt that was because she was a kind, generous and devout person, and preferred always to believe the best of people. She never had an unkind word to say about anybody. We were all left with many happy memories and, of course, all her books and plays, which I am sure will be enjoyed for many generations to come.

It would be remiss of me not to say, on this occasion, something about my grandmother and Peter Saunders. I myself remember Peter as a persistent producer of medium-pace off-cutters in my boyhood cricket days at Greenway in Devon. I am sure it is no exaggeration to say that many Agatha Christie plays would never have been written at all but for his judicious mixture of persuasion, encouragement, confidence and pleading. She adored it all, and certainly, we all recognise what The Mousetrap owed Peter in its earlier days. His confidence in it never wavered and its longevity is as much a tribute to his great partnership with my grandmother as to anything else.

It is inevitable perhaps that my own impressions of my grandmother are rather personal ones. She was, above all, a family person and though everybody, from the literary world, from the world of archaeology and from the stage, has good reason to be grateful to her, it is her family who have the most to be grateful for – her kindness, her charity, and for just being herself.

The Mousetrap is with us Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 September, as part of a national tour.

Reflections on The Rights Of Others

The Rights Of Others, The Marlowe Theatre

Just a small group of our The Rights Of Others cast!

Words: Sarah Munday

Through blood, sweat, but no tears, our community production was a big success, in more ways than one.

More than 240 participants took part in The Rights Of Others, which played to full houses earlier this month (8-11 July).

As The Marlowe’s Press Officer and mum to one of the younger participants (more from him later), I guess I have a unique take on the piece. But it doesn’t matter which hat I wear, my resounding opinion is the same: what an amazing feat! How did it all come together so smoothly …

One of the people responsible for this is our Arts Management Trainee, Emma Nicholas, who produced The Rights Of Others. Two mornings after the night before, she described herself as “the legs of the swan under the water.”

The production was a steep learning curve for Emma, who only joined us in September. “Even though I worked on things like The Marlowe Young Musician Of The Year and Canterbury Children’s Festival, this was a huge leap for me, mainly because of the scale of it,” she says.

“It was stressful but I relished that. So much rested on my shoulders and there were a few moments where I wondered how we’d pull it off. Seeing it all come together was so satisfying.”

Chairing production meetings, organising schedules, licencing and risk assessments are some of the more practical aspects and even at this point, Emma still doubted her abilities: “I was a little unsure of my role and I thought I’d just listen and learn. I like being terrified!

“It wasn’t until the dress run when I realised I ‘did a thing’. And then when I saw the audience on opening night …”

A tearful moment for some, but not Emma: “I never cry!”.

On performance days, Emma’s focus was on Desperate Measures, the Studio play, rather than the promenade performances. She left the latter in the capable hands of Rose Bonsier, our Theatre Technical Trainee.

Andrew Dawson, our Head Of Creative Projects, has praised Rose for her “excellent and gracious approach to production management”.

Desperate Measures, part of The Rights Of Others at The Marlowe Canterbury

A production photo from the latter half of The Rights Of Others: Studio play Desperate Measures.

I caught snatches of The Rights Of Others through the week (and before), but it wasn’t until the Saturday that I watched the promenade all the way through (twice) and Desperate Measures. The atmosphere around the building, in both the public and private spaces, was great: a real buzz of nerves and excitement.

My lasting images: the whole company kitted out in their boiler suits; the bloodied face of Justice; the young dancers; the comradery; Robin Hood in the On The Banks Of Runnymeade scene; many stand-out performances in Desperate Measures.

But what did those taking part think? I briefly chatted with some of them and just loved their enthusiasm, honesty and dedication.

Henry Deighton, one of our more senior participants, belongs to our adult acting class The Marlowe People’s Company (and has done for some time; he took part in last year’s inaugural community production, The Garden Of England): “Yet another great experience for everyone – those taking part and hopefully, those watching. Andy’s vision is amazing.”

Another member of The People’s Company is Ryan Hill (29): “What I’ve liked is that it gets me out of my normal life [Ryan is a lifeguard]. I’ve had a lot of worries in the last few months, but thanks to this I’ve been able to forget them for a while. It’s been great meeting so many different people, and getting to know them.”

Connor Fentiman (19) is a member of The Marlowe Senior Company: “It’s the first time I’ve done anything like this and it’s been brilliant. The best bit is that we all came together and were able to express ourselves without being judged. It’s been hard work but in the end we have produced something that touches the heart.”

The Rights Of Others

Holly Lobban (11) is a member of The Marlowe Junior Company: “I play King John and had lots of lines to learn. It took me a while to learn them but now I know them without thinking about them. It’s really exciting, especially when it was being filmed.”

Edward Mairs (my boy) is nine and also a Marlowe Junior: “It was really interesting and I learnt a lot, especially about the Magna Carta. I liked working with Martin [Gibbons, practitioner] and I learned a lot working with the older ones – that they can be really sweaty!”

The last word is from our Head Of Creative Projects Andy, the man behind the vision for the project, and the writing and directing of Desperate Measures: “These projects are never easy and yet the invasion of 240 non-professionals across the theatre site was welcomed with generosity – it really is a privilege working with such a diverse group of participants. We all can’t wait for the next one, which will be even bigger and better!”

Finally, some advice for our Finance Manager, Paul Turner: you can’t always have your cake and eat it (especially when it’s a prop for Desperate Measures!).

Find out more about the project here.

The Rights Of Others was developed with the support of The Kobler Trust, Furley Page Solicitors and The Marlowe Theatre Development Trust.

A day in the life of… Adam Wood, Studio Manager

Adam Wood, Studio Manager at The Marlowe

Adam Wood, Studio Manager at The Marlowe. Photo by Elizabeth Ellis.

Continuing our series of blogposts meeting our staff team, today is the turn of the man behind The Marlowe Studio, Adam Wood.

How long have you been working at The Marlowe Theatre?

I started with The Marlowe in November 2010, wearing a fetching red gilet and green felt cap whilst ushering Peter Pan at The Marlowe Arena. When panto was over I transitioned to the Box Office, which was then based at Sun Street. I opened the new building in October 2011 as part of the Box Office team, got the job as Deputy Front of House Manager in September 2012, and took on the new post of Studio Manager in January 2014.

What does a typical day for you look like?

It’s probably a healthy balance of looking for new shows to come to The Marlowe Studio, talking to the companies behind shows that are coming up, popping my head into The Studio to welcome the company who are performing that evening, and some meetings with colleagues from various departments on all aspects of the day-to-day business of running The Studio.

What inspired you to work in theatre?

I had a job at the theatre in my home town, Hereford, which I returned to during academic holidays whilst studying for my BA. When I graduated that led to a full-time position at a theatre in London called Riverside Studios, and then I moved to The Marlowe (see above!) when I came to Canterbury to study for my MA. I could pretend that all that was to a plan, but in truth it was more happenstance.

How did you get to where you are today?

I just kind of stuck around and made it known I was looking to do more things and different things. I count myself super-lucky that the right opportunities came up at the right times for me: not once but twice a new post was created just as I was looking to make a change of role.

What is the best part of your job?

I get to make a contribution, however small, to the arts. For all of the hard work and the hoops that need to be jumped through—everything that goes into bringing a show to the building or working towards bringing a project to fruition—at the end of it there’s that wonderful feeling of watching an audience commune with a piece of art and really benefit from it. The power of art to enrich people’s lives is absolutely sacred to me, and working in service of that is a privilege.

What would you say has been your proudest moment since working at The Marlowe?

After a lot of hard work, a lot of lessons learned, and a real journey of discovery, it was great to be in the audience when our first in-house production opened in The Marlowe Studio in October 2014. Beached was a project that genuinely stretched the boundaries of what The Marlowe does, and it provided a vital first step down a path we’re now committed to: more new work, more home-made work, a new way to contribute to the artistic ecology of Kent.

Outside of work I…

Read a lot, write a little, drink too much coffee, meditate to alleviate the effects of the coffee, run sometimes, listen to a lot of music and podcasts, and watch films and… all the normal stuff.

Favourite productions you’ve seen at The Marlowe?

Every Brilliant Thing (Pentabus & Paines Plough), which came to us recently, is clever and funny, sad and moving, and just an outstanding piece of writing by Duncan Macmillan, and an incredible performance by Jonny Donahoe.

Dumbstruck (Fine Chisel), was an odd ensemble piece about marine bioacoustics… amongst other things. Quick-paced and whip-smart, it’s also wildly inventive and one of those shows I wish I could go back and see again for the first time.

Fleabag (Drywrite & Soho Theatre), the Olivier-award nominated one-woman show that our friends at Soho brought to us was one of the single best whirlwind performances that has graced the Studio stage, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s script is a drum-tight (if filthy) marvel.

And the production you’re most looking forward to?

Next season in The Studio is going to be a lot of fun: we’ve got an absurd physical-theatre love story (Crazy Glue) and a clowning show called that’s going to be an obscenely good time (Pss Pss). But probably the show I’m looking forward to most is He Had Hairy Hands by Kill The Beast: a 1970s werewolf detective mystery that has to be seen to be believed.

There are also some secret things I can’t talk about that are in the works, which are very exciting, so I guess keep an eye on the website and the Studio brochure.

Any advice for someone looking to get into theatre?

I don’t think there’s a set answer to this, and I can only really speak to my experience. But if it’s something you really love and want to be a part of, find a way to get your foot in the door—put on that gilet and the felt hat if you have to—and then stick around, do good work, and make it known that you’re interested in progressing. I think the arts in general, and perhaps theatre in particular, provide an environment that really allows for and encourages people to give what they can, in the knowledge that it won’t go unnoticed.