The actress chatted to us about Samuel Bailey’s play Shook which is being released to watch digitally.
Hi Andrea, for anyone who hasn’t seen Shook can you tell me a bit more about it?
Hello Love London Love Culture! Shook follows three teenagers in a male young offenders’ institution as they take parenting classes with a female teacher. The play looks at the incarceration of young men at a point in their lives when they are trying to understand and explore what it means to be a man both in their immediate surroundings and the wider society. Shook also touches on the circumstances which can make it difficult for these young men to follow a different path.
What made you want to be part of the production initially?
It was simply a great piece of storytelling. When I first read the play, I was struck by the strong characters and by how much humour was in the script given the subject matter. I laughed out loud while reading it and that doesn’t happen very often! It gives a voice to a group of people in society who are often despised and/or ignored and I just love when drama does that. I was also very moved by it, there is a lot of heart in Sam’s writing.
How does it feel that people are getting a chance to see the play again?
I am thrilled that Shook is getting a new life online and that even more people will get a chance to see this brilliant and important play. We were obviously saddened that the West End transfer couldn’t happen but it’s very exciting to think that we may now reach an even wider audience than would have been possible in the West End. After the Southwark Playhouse run, I was blown away by how much people wanted it to have a bigger life so reuniting with the company for a filmed version felt really well deserved and indeed necessary.
Shook has been on quite a journey since it was first seen at the Southwark Playhouse. What do you think it is about the play that makes it stand out?
It’s such a simple story – three young offenders taking parenting classes – but it’s so well executed. Sam clearly knows and understands these guys and their world, the characterisation is really strong and it’s simply watching the relationships between them that is so compelling. I think audiences really responded to that authenticity and also to the fact that the play doesn’t pass judgement and doesn’t preach.
It’s accessible to everyone, from seasoned theatre goers to those who have never watched a play before. Sometimes people can feel like a particular subject won’t interest them as they know nothing about it or have never given it a second thought. However, I’m sure everyone has opinions on young offenders and criminality, whether those opinions have been formed by the news, TV and film, personal experience or just from seeing someone on the street and making a judgement. I think Shook challenged a lot of preconceived ideas and made audiences think about the teenagers behind the statistics.
And as I mentioned before, there is a lot of humour in it, something I don’t think people would expect from this play. This phrase has been overused but the play really does take audiences on a journey, they laughed and cried. It was also one of those projects where everything just came together fantastically well – the writing, the cast, direction, set design, lighting, sound. It really was a team effort and I’m very grateful to Papatango for bringing us all together.
Could you tell me a bit more about your character Grace? She provides a safe space for the boys to be themselves in a way they probably don’t feel they can when they are outside of the class. She’s tough but empathetic and her calm demeanour enables the boys to reflect on their situation and communicate honestly with each other, even when she is not
there. Grace has a job to do in teaching the class but is faced with her own challenge in striking a balance between being a supportive, encouraging teacher whilst maintaining a safe emotional
What can people expect when they watch the play? To laugh, be entertained, surprised, moved and see a brilliant piece of theatre.
By Emma Clarendon
Shook will be available to watch online from the 5th to the 28th February. Tickets cost £10 and are available to purchase here.