Rachel Bright, best known as her role as Poppy Meadow in TV’s EastEnders, returns to the stage as part of the stellar ensemble cast for next month’s world premiere of The Beast of Blue Yonder, Philip Ridley’s new time-hopping black comedy at Southwark Playhouse. We caught up with her in a break from rehearsals. Time to get booking!
Three stories. Three decades. One terror.
In 1930s Hollywood Tex Maverick is casting his new film, Terrorland. He’s not after a star. Just someone who can scream. In 1980s Essex, young people enjoy a summer’s day at the beach. They eat ice cream. They make plans. Then something happens that changes their lives forever. In 1960s East London, Scott is mourning the death of his wife. He wants to talk to her again. Then he meets someone who can make that happen. It’s all so perfect. Like in a movie.
In addition to Rachel Bright, the stellar ensemble cast includes Jade Ewen, Mirren Mack, Rachel Bright, Unique Spencer, Steve Furst, Charlie Quirke, Lucy Gape and Tyler Conti. The Beast of Blue Yonder is presented by Tramp, who had Offie-nominated success with Philip Ridley’s gender-neutral collection of monologues ANGRY at Southwark Playhouse two years ago.
Talking to… Rachel Bright
Rachel Bright is best known for playing regular character Poppy Meadow in EastEnders and has appeared in several other TV series and films including Doctors, Life Just Is and award-winning Sometimes the Moon Is Velvet. She also starred in the nationwide tour of Agatha Christie’s A Murder is Announced.
Were you familiar with Philip Ridley’s work before this production?
Of course! I think he has been coined one of our greatest living playwrights so I was really excited to be cast in this new play. I’ve never performed in any of Philip’s plays before, but I’m a big fan of Pitchfork Disney – a theatrical style-breaker, controversial, in-your-face and unapologetic.
What did you think when you first read The Beast of Blue Yonder?
I’ve never read something I’ve wanted to get my teeth into like this before. It’s complicated, controversial and exciting.
Tell us about your character.
Maddie is a complicated, hurt femme fatale with a box of tricks she isn’t scared to use.
Why do you like to return to the stage?
There’s nothing like performing live onstage, seeing a character’s journey through from beginning to end and having an audience go through that journey with you.
Any anecdotes from rehearsals?
It’s still early days, and I think we are all still finding our feet. However, what a joy to have Philip Ridley working with us. He’s so open and giving. It’s truly exciting to have the playwright in the same room.
Any favourite lines from the play?
I’m not giving away my favourite lines yet… you’ll have to come and see it. (But, my goodness, Maddie is good at one-liners!)
Tell us about Baking Bright and your baking obsession.
When I’m not acting, I run my own baking business. It started as a hobby while I was on EastEnders and slowly became a business. I make bespoke cakes for special occasions – check out my baking Instagram @bakingbright – I’m sure the cast will be getting a bake or two!
Why should audiences see The Beast of Blue Yonder?
It’s Philip Ridley‘s new play – do you need any other reasons? Ha! It’s a twisty, funny, dramatic piece that leaves you questioning some of your own decisions.
The Beast of Blue Yonder runs from 2 April to 9 May 2020 at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD with performances Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, matinees Tuesdays and Saturdays at 3pm. Tickets are priced £14-22. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!