Su Gilroy, who collaborates regularly with many visiting and in-house productions at The Bread & Roses Theatre, directs this one-man dark comedy, which explores love, inner demons and period house features.
Roman Berry, Production & Marketing Manager at The Bread & Roses Theatre spoke with her about the collaborative process on this piece, its challenges and significance of telling Martin Lingus’ story.
How did the collaboration come about in Lorraine Mullaney’s ‘Martin Lingus’ and who are the people involved?
Lorraine is a Brighton-based writer who I worked with in 2014 on her play ‘Unclouded Moon’ at the Brighton Fringe Festival (which was also shortlisted for the Best New Play Award). The following year she produced a show called ‘Sex in Shorts’ which was made up of six 10-minute plays by three writers, including herself, and I directed all of them. One of Lorraine’s was a monologue called ‘A Lady with a House’ which was very well received, and which she then re-wrote as an hour-long show, bringing in more characters. We asked some actors to read it as part of the process, and one of them was Clive Marlowe, an actor I’ve worked with several times. He really liked the script and was very interested in doing it as a one-man show, so Lorraine adapted it again to the version we’re presenting at The Bread & Roses Theatre.
What’s challenging about bringing ‘Martin Lingus’ and the script to life?
The most challenging aspect is that Clive not only has to play all the characters, but he also has to do it without the help of any costumes, props or anything else – it’s just him and the words. We had to make sure we could differentiate the various characters vocally and physically, so we spent quite a lot of time working on them individually, even though their dialogue actually weaves in and out a lot of the time, sometimes changing between characters line by line, which is also challenging.
The main story is about a man trying, despite his ‘inner demons’ (and not entirely successfully), to find his way in the world, but underlying that are several themes which reflect our current political and social climate.
Toxic masculinity is one of them, as we see Martin trying to be the man he thinks he’s expected to be, and the negative effect this has on him and the women he meets. We’re not talking sexual harassment along the lines of #metoo but we see the failure of the social norms of gender-based behaviour.
It also looks at societal pressures to achieve status and wealth; for Martin that means a house (preferably a nice period property) but it’s indicative of our materialistic society where we can be judged by what we have rather than who we are – for example badly-behaved (but wealthy) football stars become super-heroes while many wonderful people struggle to make ends meet while being unpaid and unsupported carers to family members.
Another topical issue it looks at is the current housing crisis. We learn that Martin becomes homeless on more than one occasion and we see how easy it is for this to happen to anyone. There are many homeless people on the streets, despite successive governments promising that "sleeping in shop doorways" would be eliminated. Many of these people have mental health issues too, and much more needs to be done to resolve the problem.
For me, one of the important parts of the show is understanding why Martin makes some poor choices in life. For him it is, to a certain extent, the result of poor parenting. A new character in this version of the play is his mother, and in seeing his relationship with her we have an understanding of why he behaves the way he does. It can be very easy to judge people and their actions, but I think if we take the trouble to understand them we are much more likely to be able to resolve issues in a way that leads to better outcomes for everyone.
What exciting project is next for Director Su Gilroy?
I’ve been asked to direct a play, ‘Moment of Grace’ by Bren Gosling, which is part of the Bloomsbury festival in October. It too is interwoven monologues but this time the 3 characters are played by 3 actors. It’s set in 1987 on the day Princess Dianna famously visited the first HIV / Aids unit, shaking hands with staff and patients without wearing gloves. Sounds trivial now, but then it really helped change people’s perception of the disease and those who had it.
Mullaney Productions presents
By Lorraine Mullaney
Directed by Su Gilroy
Performed by Clive Marlowe
July 8, 15, 22 at 4pm & 7 pm