Ahead of Space Productions’ major revival of The Castle – which opens tonight (10 October 2017) at The Space, where it runs until 28 October – we sat down with cast members Anthony Cozens and Shelley Davenport, who play Stucley and Ann, to talk power, love and what audiences can expect from Howard Barker‘s masterpiece, rarely performed in the UK.
The Castle tells the story of Stucley, a knight who returns home after seven years at War. What does he expect to find?
Anthony: Everything just as it was. He thinks his wife Ann will have maintained the town in his image, remaining loyal and devoted to him. How wrong he was…
And what has Ann been up to?
Shelley: What hasn’t she been up to? She’s formed a matriarchy and a new relationship with a witch called Skinner. There’s no fighting, men are only used for baby-making and kneeling is banned.
How does Stucley feel about this?
Anthony: Angry, bemused, let down. Stucley has 9 or 10 emotions bubbling under the surface at any one time.
And what’s Ann’s reaction to seeing him again?
Shelley: She sees it as a threat to this new way of life and everything her and the women have achieved. I think there’s a moment of thinking that perhaps they can a find a way for him to fit into their world – but when she sees his reaction, she knows he can’t stay.
How to men show their ‘power’ in The Castle?
Anthony: By any means necessary.
And the women?
Shelley: By being caring and democratic instead of ruling by force. Their power comes out of mutual respect for life and for each other.
Describe The Castle in three words.
Anthony: Beastly. Relatable. Epic.
Shelley: Funny. Earthy. Brutal.
What is the relevance of the play today?
Shelley: I think it’s hugely relevant.
Anthony: The idea of building walls instead of opening lines of communication. The notion of two sets of ideas and ideals clashing despite both sides having the best interests of everyone at heart.
Shelley: The nature of power and who has it in society and how that’s imposed on others couldn’t feel more timely. Looking at conflict in the world and how predominantly “male” that is. There is masses about the interplay between genders and who gets to make the rules.
Why is this play not to be missed?
Anthony: I’m not very good at tooting my own horn so let me toot those of my production-mates. Everyone is stretching themselves for this show, nobody is resting on their laurels, and the results in rehearsals have been stunning performances. People should come and see the show just to marvel at how damn fine these people (characters and actors) are.
Shelley: Agreed. It’s a really excellent, challenging piece of writing that makes you laugh and then punches you in the gut – who doesn’t want that from theatre?