Filmed in the Assembly Rooms, The Interview heralds the start of a flurry of shows that mark the move back to in-person filming, and ultimately the return of live audiences. Issy Flower’s latest offering, presented by Buttered Toast, centres on the clash between “modern youth and fossilised youth.” Peter (played by Jack De Deney) is a jaded, eccentric and forgotten star of the past that is forced to confront his history by the questioning of a young journalist, Liz (Eleanor Storey).
De Deney’s character is introduced with an immediate sliminess. The command for his interviewer to remove her shoes as his own boots strut noisily across the stage perfectly encapsulates his character’s off-putting god complex. However, the bumbling arrogance of his character is underscored by something more menacing. Storey’s Liz remains remarkably calm despite the overwhelmingly predatory nature of the encounter.
Peter’s insistence to ply the young reporter with alcohol and drugs, coupled with repeated attempts at interrogating her sex life makes the enforced 2m social distancing a reassuring thought at the back of the viewer’s mind – thank god he can’t get any closer to her. De Deney’s character certainly dominates, perhaps to the detriment of his female counterpart. I wish the audience had been allowed more of an insight into Liz’s character; her vulnerable position in this man’s house is something that could have been given more attention.
She is markedly sympathetic to a man who extends nothing to her that is worthy of sympathy. That is, until a poignant pivot in the latter half of the play allows the audience some respite from Peter’s bravado. The image of Peter, without his facade, crumbled in the armchair is the most memorable moment of the play. De Deney captures Peter’s character well, and contrasts nicely with Storey’s believable portrayal of Liz. Flower’s writing also shines in its ability to deftly shift between lighter moments of the play to these moments of tenderness.
Director Jacob Freda excels. He should be particularly commended for his pacing of the drama. Just as our hate for Peter’s character is crystallised, that resentment is supplanted by pity. Flower’s writing is strong in her use of characterisation in this respect, and the creative pair work well in bringing the drama to life. The use of space is also very effective, and works well in exploring the relationship between the two characters.
The set is the perfect accompaniment to Peter’s life that is so rooted in the past. Surrounded by records and relics from the past, everything about the man and his life feels outdated. The technical aspects of the play are also exemplary. Technical Director Charlotte Beech’s subtle changes of lighting perfectly accompany the shifting tone of the play. Ryan King’s filming and editing are also masterful, with seamless cuts not detracting from the drama and allowing the audience to be fully immersed.
Both actors shine, the direction and writing are excellent, and everything is underscored by sublime technical direction. The Interview is an intimate, interesting and complex piece of theatre that is definitely deserving of a watch.
Image: Buttered Toast / Emma Harpin