Summarise REPLAY in one sentence.
The play is the confession by a lonely music teacher of her intense attachment to a student, but this confession is highly stage-managed to the extent we can never be sure of the nature of the ‘relationship’.
In what ways will the experience of performing REPLAY at the Fringe be different from when you performed it in Oxford?
Oxford of course has a strong drama scene but nothing to compare in size and buzz to the massive theatre community now descended on Edinburgh. It’s a really thrilling, fun atmosphere. Lots and lots of competition for audiences — though hopefully a fair amount of collaboration between companies too! The most significant thing for an actor here I suppose is the necessary stamina. Performing 26 performances is no easy task. With only 5 minutes generally for get-in (compared to at least 30 at the BT), it’s really fast-paced and you have to be on the ball. And then there’s flyering, technique for which you have to pick up as you go along. We’re really finding it invaluable training for learning how to market yourself as a performer (or writer, whichever it may be).
What were your influences in writing REPLAY?
I’ve always wanted to write and have always written bits and pieces, but I was determined to write something whole. I suppose I chose to write for the stage because I was eager to work quite collaboratively on this – writing is a very solitary game – and drama certainly gives you a lot of scope for working on writing in a company and making it as good as it can be. Actual influences are multiple but no single one overwhelmingly significant. I am a Woolf fan so her prose has definitely influenced my writing in terms of its intense interiority, but in terms of content there’s definitely a hint of James’s The Turn of The Screw about REPLAY. At the moment, the desire of an older person towards a younger is very topical and of course controversial, and this is certainly influencing how we’re talking about the show with people, and it gives another context in which an audience might respond to us.
What have you enjoyed most about being a part of REPLAY?
We’ve all loved working in such an organic way and it has been a collaborative process in which we’re constantly (even now we’re into the run!!) honing the writing, the ideas, the staging. And this ‘collaborativeness’ is particularly important when you’re presenting a piece involving a chorus which is virtually always onstage. Since the Oxford run (and before in the very first stages of the project), the script has gone through numerous subtle edits allowing to see a whole host of new things in the text. The play has been a veritable leopard always changing its spots.
What challenges have you come up against in the rehearsal process?
I suppose the biggest challenge has been working out the role of the chorus. We wanted to do something experimental here, so that we’re neither Greek tragic chorus nor highly choreographed Noh Theatre nor naturalistic ‘players’ to be drawn on scene to scene. All roles save for Freya, the protagonist, are represented by the chorus who move fluidly out of naturalistic characters to more abstract symbolic figures. Some characters we chose to represent through multiple as-if-disembodied voices and others through one voice but multiple bodies.
Why should people see the show?
People should see the show for a quirky script that goes beyond the slightly clichéd idea of a teacher-pupil relationship to explore the psychological effects of loneliness, the unreliability of desire and memory, fictionality, how one goes about telling a secret, the need for family — Freya tells of (and most probably fictionalises) the death of the pupil’s sister to suggest he needs her as a surrogate (twisted, I know!). Also on the topic of quirkiness, you should see the show for the crucial role a Victorian hip-bath plays throughout — and for a rather juicy scene involving a highly seductive sandwich!
What else are you looking forward to seeing at the Fringe?
I’m looking forward to seeing lots of comedy – there’s so much brilliant (and often free) comedy here that you’re spoilt for choice. The English student in me wants to see the more bizarre literary mash-ups on offer – a play hybridising T. S. Eliot’s The Wasteland and Chekhov’s Three Sisters is piquing my curiosity. The Alchemist, Dolls of New Albion and Lysistrata, all Oxford-exports, will all be compelling I’m sure!
REPLAY runs from 31st July to 25th August at C Cubed in Edinburgh