Tiny Room’s LOOP continues its debut tour this weekend, with original cast member David Richardson returning to the role of “freight train” Steve in Peter Mulligan’s acclaimed play about “burnt bridges and breakdowns” set during a pub lock-in. We talked to him about reprising his performance… with several key differences. Time to get booking!
It’s closing time at the local pub. It has been another day of the same for the barman Chris who needs an escape. The night is far from over, though, as he is visited by some of the pub’s regulars. All feeling like disappointments in their own lives, they embark on a lock-in of raised glasses and lowered expectations.
After its first regional date at Albany Theatre as part of the Coventry’s City of Culture programming, LOOP now moves to Bristol’s Tobacco Factory on 6 November, Leicester’s Y Theatre on 10 November, and Brighton’s The Lantern Theatre on 16 November.
Richardson joins the touring cast of Taro Bahar, Martha Furnival and Curtis Medley. The production is directed by Joe Idris-Roberts, who, with writer Peter Mulligan, formed Tiny Room, their multimedia production company, in 2018.
How did you first get involved with LOOP?
I first became involved with LOOP in 2018. I’d been friends with Peter Mulligan and Joe Idris-Roberts for a couple of years when Pete approached me with a play he’d written and intended to put it on at the Camden Fringe. I read the play and was immediately on board. I think the subject matter is so important and the play instantly reached out to me.
What were your highlights from London dates in 2018 and 2019?
There are many highlights from the first few runs of LOOP. I think the main ones for me were the rehearsal period and then the opening night. The rehearsal period was fascinating. We were a group of friends in a room, working out how to tell this story. The play was at such an early stage at that point, and every day it felt like we were finding out more and more about these characters.
Then the opening night was a highlight because we genuinely had no idea how the play would be received. We’d put a lot of hard work in and we were proud of what we’d achieved, but you never know how an audience will respond. Thankfully, it seemed to be well received. I’m delighted I’ve been asked to come back and tell the story again.
Why did you want to return to the play now?
This is a story that needs telling. I have such an affection for LOOP and want it to succeed. If I can play a tiny part in that, then I’ll be happy. Also, Tiny Room as a company were always a joy to work with. The chance to continue to be a part of their journey was something I was always going to be on board with.
Has your approach to the piece changed?
Definitely. Of course, there is already some kind of understanding of the play and the character as a base. But a lot has happened since I was involved before. Obviously, the pandemic and what the world has been through have probably given me a different perspective on life and what is really important. I think life experience will always make you view things differently. There are certainly moments with my character that I see differently now to what I did previously.
Tell us about your character and how he fits in the story.
I’d bluntly describe Steve as a freight train. He is a real driving force in the play who is capable of leaving a path of destruction. He refers to himself as a bulldozer at one point. He is a regular in the pub in which the play takes place and has a connection with Chris.
What’s it like now rehearsing with different cast members?
It’s fascinating in truth. It’s certainly different. I think the more people that read these lines the better. It’s amazing hearing how different people interpret the lines and the characters. Obviously, different people’s life experiences give them a different take on the subject. I’ve been blessed to do this play with such talented casts.
Do you have a personal connection to any of the cities you’re visiting on tour?
I have a somewhat personal connection with Leicester. I’m from Nottingham so, geographically, Leicester has always been close by. We did a week’s run of LOOP in Leicester a couple of years ago, and I have such fond memories. Myself and a member of the previous cast stayed together in Leicester for the run. The house had no TV or WiFi, just a chessboard and a deck of cards. I think it made us closer friends. We have so many jokes from that week that nobody else would understand. Still to this day, we talk about going back to that house.
In a nutshell, why should audiences see LOOP?
I think audiences should see LOOP because it can open up conversations that we all struggle to have. Different parts of the play impact people in different ways. Also, it serves to remind us that we never know what people have going on in their personal lives. As a society, we need to listen to each other more.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d just like to thank the team. Pete, Joe and the cast have all been so welcoming, and it has been a pleasure for me. I can’t wait for opening night!