Alan Ayckbourn’s RolePlay is perhaps not his most well known work but this week Jamie Jones and Nishant Raj’s production of it goes up in the Barron. I sat down with the two directors and some of the cast earlier in the week to chat about the upcoming play. When asked why they chose this particular piece Jamie said that ‘a lot of Ayckbourn’s plays are a lot more ambitious’ or, in the words of his co-director, require ‘dropping big-dollar-dough’. Sitting down to talk with them about the show, the comedy just oozes. As much as they talk about how the script is very practical and is a rare Ayckbourn that can ‘feasibly be put on in the Barron; set in one flat, one living room’, it is also, as Nishant says, ‘a really fun comedy!’
The play, Nishant tells me, surrounds ‘one of these scenarios where things escalate really quickly and snowball out of control. Uninvited guests, someone forgot to put the oven on, drunk mother-in-laws, awkward father-in-laws’. Tiffany Black, who is playing said drunk mother-in-law, chimes in with a succinct summary: ‘just a dinner party gone wrong’. In a semi-humorous vain I ask the cast how they’ve found working with Jamie and Nishant as directors. Hannah Ritchie, who is playing Paige, one of the uninvited guests, described them as ‘really professional and really fun to work with’ as well as highlighting their acting experience as being incredibly helpful. ‘They know where the actors are coming from and are able to encourage nuance and depth to the characters,’ meaning they become more than just the funny lines they get in the script.
Jamie’s view of the directing process has been that ‘it’s ‘a lot of fun but stressful’. He also admitted, ‘I feel bad for anyone who who has directed me before now. I feel worse about the terrible things I’ve done as an actor.’ An apology of sorts?
Speaking to him about his partnership with Nishant, he told me, ‘We compliment each other quite well. Nishant is very good at the more overarching themes and the bigger scale, I enjoy working in specific moments and finding how we can make this line better for the audience.’ Nishant adds that finding that balance has been really important for the two of them and makes his feelings about directing clear with an interesting metaphor: ‘Directing has convinced me that there is a market for adult diapers: you’r constantly on the verge of shitting yourself with what is going on’. He did add that it was immensely rewarding though, and both directors are convinced they’ve got ‘a fantastic cast who are incredibly funny but who also are able to turn that comedy into some very serious moments. The journey of the play is extraordinarily interesting to see where the characters start and end, with a few laughs in between.’ Apparently there is an apple gag as well but I’ve been told not to mention that.
Tickets are £5 and can be reserved at firstname.lastname@example.org. Find out more at their facebook event.