Here’s an exclusive interview with actress Megan Pemberton who plays Jackie Straker in Chummy:
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Megan – tell me about the piece and your character.
‘Chummy’ is a beautiful neo noir story written by John Foster about a cat and mouse game played between a private investigator and a wannabe serial killer. I play Jackie Straker, an ex police officer turned private investigator with a troubled past.
What was your initial impression of the script?
My initial thoughts on the script was to be completely dumb founded. It wasn’t like anything I had read before. Incredibly lyrical with poetical imagery. It’s not like any piece of new writing I’ve been in or seen. The twist and turns come so violently, with so much venom that every line, every image is not to be overlooked. It’s quite terrifying! Thinking back I definitely shouldn’t have read alone at 1am in my empty flat.
Did you have any ideas about what you wanted to bring to the role?
I was fascinated by Jackie. In its very early stages the part was initially written for a man and I was used to seeing those traits in case-hardened policemen. Alcoholic, brash isolated individuals; I hadn’t seen this in a young woman, in this genre. The more research I did, the more I saw how much their stories needed to be told. How hard it is for them to work their way up in the force and the pressure of seeming ‘too weak’. When I asked John what he had changed in the story when he decided to make Jackie a woman he said ‘only the pro nouns’ and I thought that was glorious. She’s foul mouthed, isolated and brash and I was determined not to shy away from that.
Was it easy to translate from page to stage?
It was hard to fathom how the production would translate itself to the stage. The majority of the conversations happen over the phone from Jackie office and it could have so easily slipped into ‘lets just record the voices on the other end’ territory- not exciting viewing! Luckily under the incredibly warped minds of director Alice and the design team of Michael (Set), Alex (Score/Sound) and Owen (Lighting) they created an entire world on the end of the phone. Using lights and moving shadows, Chummy is somehow always present to Jackie and keeps the game playing.
What would you say to encourage people to buy a ticket to come and see Chummy?
The audiences so far have been incredibly receptive. The story is so different – I challenge people to come and immerse themselves in the mind of shadowy claustrophobic mind of a murderer…
Thanks to Megan for a great interview, I hope the run is going well so far.