The actor chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in Tamara Harvey’s production of Orpheus Descending at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Hi Mark. For those who aren’t familiar with Tennessee Williams’ play, what can you tell me about Orpheus Descending?
It’s a play about the possible redemption, through passion and real feeling, of lives that could otherwise seem irredeemable. It asks some difficult questions – there is bleakness, but also lots of humour and humanity.
Could you tell me a bit more about your character Jabe?
Dying, disappointed, destructive. Don’t you just love him already? Though there is heart in every character. It’s harder to find in Jabe than most, but it’s there somewhere…
What do you think it is about Tennessee Williams’ writing that continues to resonate with people today?
There is a universality to a lot of his themes and there is a unique power and poetry in his language.
How are you feeling about being part of this production?
At the risk of sounding like a typical luvvie actor, I feel like a small cog in a machine. It is great to see talented people (i.e. the rest of the cast) doing their stuff.
Was there anything in particular that made you want to be part of this production?
I love Williams’ writing; I wanted to work with Tamara (director); there is a challenge to try and get the most out of an obviously unlikable character (and not just go for the obvious).
What was it about the story that stood out for you when you first read the script?
As the title suggests, there is something of the classical myth about it – it’s a well-told version of one of the old stories. I think this production will not fight shy of its heightened writing and storytelling.
What are you looking forward to most about working with the creative team of Orpheus Descending?
I think a genuine sense of playful creativity, underpinned by a passion that is inherent in the play itself.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Orpheus Descending?
Prepare to be challenged, provoked and hopefully entertained!
By Emma Clarendon
Orpheus Descending will play at the Menier Chocolate Factory from the 9th May until the 6th July.