Peter Taylor directs Lucy Burke’s new two-hander Glitter Punch, which is now premiering at the King’s Head Theatre after first being performed as a scratch night in October. He explains the challenges of developing and helming a one-person show “with interjections”…
Working on a new play is always fun, but equally scary as a new director. I remember less than a month after our run of A Series of Unfortunate Breakups in Edinburgh, the writer, Lucy Burke, sent me the script, of a play that she had been thinking of for a while. At the time, Glitter Punch was only nine pages long and pretty much a continual monologue. Thirty minutes later of intense reading, and re-reading, I knew this was something I had to work on.
Many months later, after first performing Glitter Punch at a scratch night in October, the show has come a long way to be at the King’s Head Theatre. Throughout directing the play, one of my main ambitions was for the audience to follow Molly and John’s relationship. The set is stripped to the essentials of two chairs because of that ambition – for the audience to really engage with the characters. It is about two people falling for each other and it seems like a typical romance story. However, the ending (which knocks you for six) reveals a very serious undertone.
The play is political to an extent, but I believe it was my job to neither favour one point of view nor the other. It is about Molly’s story and her memory of events that unfolded from her perspective. One of the most satisfying things for me is hearing the audience debating about the dilemma that the show presents.
During rehearsals, it was great fun working with Hadley and Charlotte. They are both very talented, which really helped the process. Also, working with only two actors is quite special, intimate and intense. There was a lot of fun exploring the characters; finding out what Molly and John had gone through to be in their positions at the start of the play. There is a lot of pain for both of them, and it was lovely (and heart-breaking) when we realised how much they mean to each other.
“The play is political to an extent, but I believe it was my job to neither favour one point of view nor the other.”
The structure of the play is a challenge in itself and particularly working with the two actors who have very different jobs at times. Molly’s character fluctuates between direct address to the audience and having intimate moments with John. It’s a weird combination of a one-person show with little interjections of a two-hander. We realised then Molly had to be constantly active, focused and most importantly a captivating storyteller. She goes through nearly every emotion under the sun and it was my intention that the audience needed to go through that with her. I wanted the actor of Molly to show everything on stage (emotionally) and that took a while in rehearsals. It is such a challenging and unique part, which we worked very hard together establishing.
John, meanwhile, says practically nothing, which did concern me to start with when thinking about how the audience would perceive his story. There are many moments in the play where Molly has a tangent to the audience, whilst John just stands there, which was the hard part. The play is looking back on events, which Molly comments on throughout. John is aware of what is happening, but he doesn’t see Molly say a massive monologue to the audience – in a way he is in the constant past. It’s a hard middle ground of being constantly aware of an event, but not doing anything to make time progress throughout, which Hadley does brilliantly.
It is then a huge credit to all the hard work that everyone has put into making this show, which has made Glitter Punch a reality. All I hope is that, together, we have created a show which keeps people talking hours later.
Glitter Punch runs at London’s King’s Head Theatre until 25 February 2017.