James Graham’s new play Labour of Love has its world première at the Noel Coward Theatre, opening on 3rd October, running until 2nd December 2017. The cast for Labour of Love are Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, Rachael Stirling, Kwong Loke, Dickon Tyrrell and Susan Wokoma.
Labour MP David Lyons cares about modernisation and “electability”… His constituency agent, Jean Whittaker cares about principles and her community. Set away from the Westminster bubble in the party’s traditional northern heartlands, this is a clash of philosophy, culture and class against the backdrop of the Labour Party over 25 years, as it moves from Kinnock through Blair into Corbyn… and beyond?
Dickon Tyrrell, who plays the part of Len Prior, answers a few questions about the production.
Q: Can you tell us about Labour of Love?
Dickon: Labour of Love is a new comedy by James Graham. It takes place in the local constituency office of a Labour MP in North Nottinghamshire. It takes place between the summer of 1990 & the spring of 2017. Labour MP David Lyons (played by Martin Freeman) is a New Labour moderniser but his constituency agent Jean Whittaker (played by Tamsin Greig) cares about her Old Labour principles and her community.
Q: What is it about this play that attracted you to want to be part of it?
Dickon: I was attracted to this project for a number of reasons. The play itself skilfully engages us in people, their politics and their world. On a first reading I was hooked – not always the case – there is such energy in James Graham’s prose. Also, I had heard so much from colleagues about Jeremy Herrin that I was extremely keen to work with him.
Q: Can you tell us about the auditioning process & how rehearsals are going?
Dickon: The casting director gave me the script and asked me to prepare a couple of scenes. I had about a week to look at the script before the audition. In that time I needed to be extremely familiar with the part of Len Prior. I looked at the script every day but was cautious not to over prepare. I have done this in the past and have then found it hard to take notes from the director in the audition.
The audition was at 17.30. Fortunately, I had other things to do that day so didn’t spend the day rehearsing unhelpful scenarios: will I be relaxed but not too relaxed? Will I read well? Will I get nervous halfway and talk absolute rubbish? They’ve all happened!
In the end, it went really well. I was relaxed enough to be centred, and most importantly in these situations, myself.
Rehearsals are going well. There is a lot of fun and it’s a collaborative atmosphere in the rehearsal room. We are very lucky that James Graham is with us in every rehearsal to help us out when we get stuck!
Q: You play the role of Len Prior – what can you tell us about him and how he fits into the storyline?
Dickon: Len is such an interesting character. He ages from 36 to 52 for a start. He is from the South East with strong working class values. He wanted to be selected to stand as the MP in the Nottinghamshire constituency in 1990. He isn’t, David is and Len is wounded by this. Len is dedicated to the traditional values of the Labour Party and steeped in the history of the Labour Movement. He is actively involved in local politics: he is Leader of the District Council and Constituency Labour Party Secretary. This gives him considerable power and influence.
He is a man of Old Labour values while David is a reformer and moderniser. This produces a very passionate conflict between them.
Q: Why should everyone get along to see the production?
Dickon: I think people should come and see Labour of Love because the play is about two of the fundamental ingredients of life: love and politics. I think you’ll enjoy the stories of the people you meet!
Dickon Tyrrell’s theatre work includes Anatomy of a Suicide, Harvest (Royal Court Theatre), Twelfth Night, Measure for Measure, Othello, The Oresteia, Julius Caesar, The Duchess of Malfi, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe), Rutherford and Son (Northern Stage) and The Romans in Britain (Crucible Sheffield). His television work includes Law and Order, Rough Crossings, Aberfan and Coup!; and for film, The Isle.
Michael Grandage Company and Headlong present
The world première of
LABOUR OF LOVE
By James Graham
Director: Jeremy Herrin; Set and Costume Designer: Lee Newby; Lighting Designer: Neil Austin
Sound Designer: Paul Arditti; Video & Projection Designer: Duncan McLean
27 September to 2 December 2017
Press night: 3 October 2017 at 7pm
Noël Coward Theatre
St Martin’s Lane, London WC2H 9LX