BWW Interview: Claire Goose Talks THE GIRL WHO FELL at Trafalgar Studios
She talks to us about preparing for such a difficult role and why humour is such a key part of this new show.
Can you tell us a little bit about the show, and your character Thea?
The Girl Who Fell starts with the death of my character's daughter through suicide. We explore it through social media and certain postings that have gone on.
There's lots of different themes in the play. It deals with teenagers on social media and the impact of that. It also deals with parents, and how they're trying to catch up and work out how to stay on top of it.
What's so great about the play is it comes from two different aspects. You have the mother, Thea, and then her daughter's best friends Billie and Lenny, who are 15-year-old twins. You get this journey and perspective from two different generations, and it's about how all of them feel to some degree responsible, and have guilt and shame about the death of Sam [Thea's daughter]. But through the play, we explore that actually, with suicide you'll never really know 100% why someone does it.
There's some very difficult themes in the show - did you do any preparation or research for it?
Yes. Thea is a chaplain within the prison service, so I wanted to get a sense of what her daily responsibilities would be, and how someone becomes a chaplain. I was lucky enough to speak to someone who is a chaplain, and also has children, and find out just how she juggles both at the same time. That layer of research was really interesting.
Sarah Rutherford [the writer] and Hannah Price [the director] had between them read various books on different elements to do with the play. The one I chose to read to help get a deeper understanding was about the loss of a child, specifically through suicide. It was quite heavy reading, but it gave me an extra layer to work from.
For me, one of the fascinating things about this job is the research element, especially when you're playing a different character that you know nothing about. I really enjoy that part.
How have you looked after yourself and your own mental health during this show?
A lot of laughter! Thankfully, although the subject matter is very dark, it is also a very funny play. Sarah has very cleverly managed to bring in that kind of humour, and I think that's very real.
When people are dealing with very difficult subject matter, you'll always find humour. Think about doctors and the level of stress and trauma they're under, and they tend to have a very dark sense of humour. It's a coping mechanism I guess.
Also laughing a lot with the cast - they're a fabulous bunch. We hang out a lot before the show and we're massive supporters of each other, so it's quite easy to go and have a drink afterwards to unwind.
What was the rehearsal process like?
It was quite intense to start with because we didn't know each other. But as we got to know each other more, and discover more in the play, it became a lot more of a relaxed atmosphere.
The Girl Who Fell is a brand-new piece of writing. What attracted you to be a part of it?
Lots of reasons really. I love being a part of new plays. It gives me an opportunity to work on something that is still malleable, that you can still mould. You're also the first person to ever play that character, so it means you haven't got anything to be compared to, or influenced by - it's whatever your gut instinct is.
It's so brilliantly written too and it's such a layered character to play - it's a challenging role. I was quite scared to take it because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to do it. I said to my agent, "I'm going to say yes because I'm not sure if I can do it - I'm just going to scare myself a bit".
Why is new writing so important for the theatre industry?
It's always great to have fresh voices, and different people from different backgrounds saying different things. We always need new writers, and it's really important that they get the opportunity to showcase their work, otherwise we end up with the same writers with the same sort of feel.
What's it been like to perform in such an intimate space at Trafalgar Studios?
It's quite a tricky space because it's so small, but at the same time you gain a level of intimacy that's more like television. You don't feel like you have to over-project, and you can be really still and quiet. It's a really great space for quite naturalistic acting, which is lovely.
Why do you think the show's themes (such as social media) are important to bring to the West End?
Sadly, it's a fact of life, and none of us will know the true impact for generations to come. Social media is not all bad, and we've spoken about that a lot - about how there's a lot to be gained from it - but I think we're all trying to navigate it and learning as we do it. And it's trying to educate teenagers about the plus and negative sides of it, and to not get too embroiled in it all.
You're no stranger to the West End stage - how does it feel to be back?
It's amazing, I absolutely love it. The play really crosses generations too, so we're getting a real mix of very young to much older viewers, so it's really interesting.
Have you got any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I can't tell you anything at the moment other than I've just done a Murdoch mystery thing in Canada, which should be airing over here very soon.
Why should people come and see The Girl Who Fell?
Quite a few people who've seen the show have said it's something that stays with you for a few days. We don't talk about things like this very much, and we're encouraging parents to come and see this with their children, because it opens the dialogue about a very difficult subject matter.
And it's funny, it's not just serious. It's a good night out - lots of laughs, and I think it's a really powerful piece of writing that people should see.
Photo credit: Helen Maybanks