BWW Interview: Gala Gordon and Gareth David-Lloyd Talk BLUEBERRY TOAST
Award-winning US playwright, Mary Laws, exposes the darker side of happily ever after in the UK premiere of this cutting, absurdly funny, twisted tragedy, directed by Soho Theatre's artistic director, Steve Marmion. Two of the cast members, Gareth David-Lloyd and Gala Gordon, stopped to chat with BroadwayWorldUK about the play.
What made you want to become an actor?
Gala Gordon: What appealed to me and still does is how you can step into someone else's shoes and escape your own.
Gareth David-Lloyd: At first a desperate need for attention. Later, a love of telling stories that change the way people think AND a desperate need for attention.
What job would you do if you weren't in this industry?
GG: An artist.
GDL: I'd try to be a chef - I love cooking. I literally can't do anything else that anyone would pay me for.
You're about to star in Blueberry Toast. Can you tell us about the play?
GG: It explores the dark underbelly of the middle-class suburban dream in a harrowing descent from the mundane into the unexpected.
GDL: It's a noir take on family life in American suburbia. It's stylised and lyrical in places, and while it can be quietly comical, I think it has the potential to reflect many uncomfortable truths in our own ideas of what makes a perfect family.
What specifically drew you to it?
GG: Mary Laws' writing exposes the cruelty that humans are capable of, and the descent from civility to savagery in the blink of an eye.
The play reveals the darkness and unhappiness behind the veneer of the craved perfect marriage and the moment when it all crumbles down, shattering the innocence of children and presenting the potential horror of the adult world.
GDL: At first, the director: I worked with Steve when I was a student and have wanted to work with him again ever since. He's a great mentor and his creative language is one I understand without any overlong conversations about motivation and backstory. Then I read the play and fell in love with it, and now I'm working on it, I'm drawn to every aspect of it.
You're working with such a great cast. How are rehearsals going?
GG: Rehearsals have been such a joy. The energy and willingness in the room is infectious.
GDL: I feel very lucky to work with such a talented ensemble. Everyone is taking the bull by the horns and not wasting a beat. It's an incredibly exciting rehearsal room.
Any funny highlights you can share?
GG: Let's just say that there's a lot of blueberries and mess.
GDL: I particularly like it when Brett, our fight choreographer, steps in for Gala during the more intimate moments. His Judy Garland-style swooning makes me weak at the knees.
What's it like to work with Steve Marmion?
GG: Steve brings a wealth of knowledge about how to craft extreme violence alongside absurd humour. He can also bring a superb team of outside experts on board - in choreography, stage fighting, accents, prosthetics etc., in order to make the production the best it can be.
GDL: He's alright.
Looking at the trailer it seems like a crazy mix of tragedy, comedy and absurdity. What should audiences expect?
GG: A whirlwind of emotions. Definitely great humour and some harrowing moments. It's laugh-out-loud funny and Tarantino-esque.
GDL: All of the above with big doses of heightened violence and off-the-wall musical theatre - sometimes in the same moment.
And what do you think the audience's reaction to the play will be?
GDL: I'd hope one of amusement, horror and, in some, deep self-analysis.
GG: That I will have to let you know...
Tell me something you're passionate about, and why?
GG: Platform Presents, the theatre company. I founded it with my business partner, Isabella Macpherson, to give a platform to rising star talent: actors, writers and directors, with a particular interest in female voices.
GDL: Changing people for the better with stories and telling those stories from a place of honesty and truth.
You've worked on some really exciting projects; what's been one of your highlights?
GG: My first job I got when I was at Guildhall was the role of Irina in Three Sisters, directed by Benedict Andrews at the Young Vic. I was thrown in at the deep end but will cherish it as one of the most special ensembles to be a part of.
GDL: Torchwood will always be the turning point in my career and life in general. I learned so much about the industry, people and myself. Having my life change so dramatically in such a short space of time forced me to confront the very best and very worst of me, and I think it's helped me be on a more positive path.
What role are you still yearning to play?
GDL: I've done it in youth theatre, but now I'm a tad older and wiser, I'd love a professional crack at Macbeth.
Tell us something we don't know about you...
GG: I am named Gala after Salvador Dali's wife.
GDL: I was lead vocalist in a metal band called Blue Gillespie. It passed the time and helped me vent a lot of demons. We split up when I ran out of things to moan about.
What's been the hardest part of your career?
GG: Riding out of the tough times when you are worried you won't get another job.
GDL: Rejection and self-acceptance.
Knowing what you know now about the industry, what advice would you give to someone who's just starting out?
GG: Talk to people and create your own work.
GDL: Learn to take rejection and accept who you are.
Photo credit: Roo Kendall