The actress spoke to LLLC’s Emma Clarendon about starring in Rutherford & Son at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.
For those who aren’t familiar with Rutherford & Son – what can you tell me about the play?
Well, the play is set in 1910 in Gateshead where Rutherford has built up a glassmaking business that he intends to pass on to his son John, so that’s how the play starts but it takes many extraordinary turns from there. For me Rutherford & Son is about family, the patriarchy, secrets, legacy, sex, cruelty, class, sacrifice… I’ll stop there!
What would you say makes Githa Sowerby’s play relevant for audiences today?
I think we are in an interesting time particularly for women. There has been a surge of women speaking out about how there are still fundamentals in our society that mean true equality can’t be achieved and Githa Sowerby is doing the same in this play. She really was ahead of her time and beautifully illustrates the need in all her characters to fight back against what is expected of them, which is something I can recognise in others, and myself.
Could you tell me a bit more about your character, Janet?
Janet is an unmarried, 36-year-old woman who has only ever lived at home with her father Rutherford and Aunt Ann, so as you can imagine it’s not an ideal situation to be in, especially in 1910. When we meet her in the play she is browbeaten and discontented with her situation, but feels utterly powerless to change it. She is an early feminist, strong, passionate and determined, and in this she goes on an incredible journey.
What was it that made you want to be involved with the production?
I wanted to do this show because the writing is fantastic; it has an air of Arthur Miller and Ibsen about it. The language is visceral and powerful, and the story is gripping. Also, Caroline [Steinbeis] is a brilliant director who I love working with, so I knew the play and myself would be in great hands with her!
How are rehearsals going so far? It’s now week two and rehearsals are really going great. We’re really getting to unpack the story bit by bit, and delving into the real nitty gritty. It’s a great company and we’re all excited about getting this show to the Crucible!
How would you describe the play? Unsettling, radical, enthralling and surprising.
What can audiences expect from the production? Audiences can expect a great story written by an amazing writer, told by a cracking director through a fantastic cast. I’m so surprised more people don’t know about this play, but we’re doing out bit in trying to change that.
By Emma Clarendon
Rutherford and Son runs at the Crucible from Friday 8 – Saturday 23 February.