“we would all just wet ourselves laughing – not because the cast was just corpsing or messing about, but because it’s simply funny”
Her friends know about it. Her mother knows about it. Her sister knows about it. What they have failed to understand is that Constance knows about it, too, and is ready to put things right in her own very special way.
With the Crescent’s production of W. Somerset Maugham timeless comedy of manners The Constant Wife opening on Saturday 5th October, Director Jaz Davison took some time from busy preparations to answer some questions for the Crescent’s blog.
What would you say is your favourite moment in the play?
Probably where Constance gives John his cigarette case. It’s truly pivotal and as we altered the play from three acts to two, it’s where we then call the interval.
What attracted you to this play and the prospect of directing it?
As I say in the Director’s Notes, it’s because my friend Gail directed it in L.A. She has always been someone I respect [as a person and as a theatrical being] and I learned a great deal from her in my early days. I hadn’t expected to enjoy the play but was really bowled over by the comedy and the timely elements of the play.
Do you think the themes and comedy of the play will still translate to today’s audience?
Oh very much so. It may have been set in the 20’s but it is a how to for women with a cheating man and self-emancipation. And we would all just wet ourselves laughing – not because the cast was just corpsing or messing about, but because it’s simply funny. Some of the language is long and convoluted, really Shakespeare is a walk in the park compared, but like Shakespeare, once the actor knows what they are really saying, conveying is not an issue… and funny is funny… Also economic Freedom for women. Truly, THAT is something that I feel is still an issue today and it is addressed quite smartly!
If you could sum up the play in three words, what would they be?
Ibsen with laughs. [really, A Doll’s House with laughs, but you said three…]
What do you think the audience will Take away from the show?
Gosh, I can’t even begin to imagine that… I just want them to have fun. If they learn something then that’s a bonus, but to walk into a situation that will make you forget your own troubles for a few hours and laugh at what other people are going through? That’s priceless and what I wish anyone in a comedy theatre experience…
I also have an amazingly wonderful and talented cast who were pretty much all willing to just try anything. I’ve added things they never expected and they have just run with it. I like to do what I call “giving presents” to my actors with moments that they can really sink their teeth into, either in the one moment or use for the entirety of the play. I mime wrapping a small box and tying a bow and mime handing it to them. Usually this only happens once or twice in a play. This happened LOADS in Constant Wife. And largely due to the people playing the parts. I probably would do many things differently with totally different actors, but these people have given me a chance to really play with the play.
The Constant wife runs from Saturday 5th to Saturday 12th October 2013 in the Studio at 7.45pm | Matinees: Sun 6 & Sat 12 October at 2.45pm
Tickets: £11 | £10 Concessions | Sunday Matinee only: £6.00