Got your tickets yet for the European premiere of Audrey Cefaly’s The Gulf, starring Louisa Lytton and Anna Actor next month at London’s Tristan Bates Theatre? Director Matthew Gould spoke to Love London Love Culture about what attracted him to this moving relationship two-hander and how the company are embracing their inner ‘Bama.
Could you tell me a bit more about what The Gulf is about?
The Gulf is a play about two women on a boat in Alabama fishing and talking about their relationship.
How did you first come across the play?
Mitchell Green, the producer, sent the play to me to ask what I thought and I read it and immediately wanted to be involved in the production. Mitchell and I have worked on two productions before and we seem to click. He is a very good producer and one I find easy to collaborate with.
What did you first think when you read it?
When I first read the play the thing that struck me was the simple, but deeply troubling, relationship that Betty and Kendra have, and however simple or troubling it is, it is very similar to many other couples’ relationships.
How do you feel about bringing The Gulf to a London audience?
Naturally, I am keen and excited to bring The Gulf to a London audience as it is the European premiere of a very good play. The excitement is slightly tempered by the fear that it might get lost amongst the many productions that London audiences are blessed with being given the opportunity to see. But this means we as a team have to work very hard to make the production stand out and be a play that will be talked about not only before an audience take their seats and after as they digest the material and the production.
How are preparations for the production going so far?
We are in a very good place with the play. We have a great production team and a wonderful cast. Anna Acton and Louisa Lytton play Betty and Kendra respectively. They have been working with the dialogue/accent coach Terry Besson and are enjoying the discovery of their inner Alabamian, or “ ’bama ” as the locals would say. As we begin rehearsals, we will slowly start to see what makes Kendra and Betty and their relationship tick.
How have you approached bringing The Gulf to the stage?
From a directing point of view, the real work starts in the rehearsal room with Anna and Louisa. I have also had many online chats with Audrey Cefaly, the writer who’s in America, to try and understand the part of the world where the play is set and the people who inhabit it. The setting of the play and the lifestyle of Betty and Kendra is very different to mine so the geological frame of reference for me is one that Audrey has helped me understand. The frame of reference for the girls’ relationship is a much clearer one for me to relate to.
What do you think audiences will take away from the play?
I hope the audience will take away an appreciation that, whatever the gender or sexuality of two people in a relationship, the highs and lows, joys and fears are the same whoever and wherever you are.
THE GULF runs at London’s Tristan Bates Theatre from 17 April to 5 May 2018, with performances (90 minutes) Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Saturday matinees at 2.30pm, Sunday matinees at 3pm and a special Friday matinee on 4 May at 2.30pm. Tickets are priced £17.50, concessions £15. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!