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Interview with Ed Hughes from the cast of Rules for Living

Rules For Living an ETT and Royal and Derngate Production. Ed Hughes (Adam) and Jolyon Coy (Matthew) Photo by Mark Douet
Rules For Living an ETT and Royal and Derngate Production. Ed Hughes (Adam) and Jolyon Coy (Matthew) Photo by Mark Douet

English Touring Theatre’s Rules For Living by Sam Holcroft and directed by Simon Godwin is currently touring until 18th November 2017, when it will conclude its run at the Rose Theatre, Kingston.

Cast includes: Jolyon Coy as Matthew, Ed Hughes as Adam, Carlyss Peer as Carrie, Laura Rogers as Nicole, Jane Booker as Edith and Paul Shelley as Francis.

Q: Can you tell us about Rues for Living?
Ed: It’s a very funny dark comedy about a family who gather together to celebrate Christmas and it all unravels from there. It was first done at the National a few years ago and is a modern masterpiece of a play.

Q: What is at the heart of the story?
Ed: A family of four (two brothers and mum and dad) plus couples. I am playing Adam who is the eldest son of Edith (Jane Booker) and Francis (Paul Shelley), I have one younger brother Matthew (Jolyon Coy) who has a partner Carrie (Carlyss Peer). I am married to Nicole (Laura Rogers) with a daughter Emma.
The “Rules for Living” of the title refer to the internal rules that the characters create for themselves and when these aren’t met by the rest of the family, how they deal with this. Christmas can be a wonderful and deeply stressful time of year when families come together and old tensions get played out. It is a very cleverly observed comedy which everyone can relate to who has a family!

Q: Can you tell us about your character and how you have gone about ‘getting into the character’?
Ed: Adam’s marriage is pretty much falling apart and at the beginning of the play, Adam is living in a Travelodge and he is desperately trying to get to come home. Adam is probably the nearest character (in terms of social background) to myself that I have played, he played cricket for England, which I did when I was 19 so I can understand where he is coming from. He lives in a high achieving household and is deeply competitive with his brother. He is a well-meaning person who has created self-sabotaging rules and has had a traumatic event in his life when he fell apart on his England cricket debut from which he never recovered.
I feel for him and his situation as I think it is more common than we would like to admit. The pressure of a success-driven family and how he was never allowed just to be himself. It is the quiet tragedy of many people’s lives, unfulfilled dreams.

Q: How does your character fit into the storyline?
Ed: He is the anarchic one who likes to stir up the chaos. I have to do all sorts of accents which is a lot of fun to do. The ending of the play is pretty spectacular and achingly funny. I won’t give it away though…

Q: What are your likes and dislikes of touring?
Ed: I like moving around and playing lots of different theatres and getting to understand the different audiences. It can be tough to be away from home, but the company are great to spend time with and we laugh a lot.

Q: Do you have any specific and/or unusual pre-show routines?
Ed: I tend to do yoga and then have a long shower while warming up the voice. Jolyon, who I share a dressing with, has the patience of a saint (and great earphones) to hear the same thing every night.

Q: Away from the stage what do you like to do to chill out?
Ed: I spend time with the family and love East London where I live. We always have a TV series on the go, Narcos being a favourite as my wife Andrea is Colombian.

Q: Why should everyone get along to see the production?
Ed: It is a genuinely very funny and moving play. The response so far has been amazing and the laughter pretty uncontrollable at times. It is unknown by many people but my gut says is going to become a bit of a classic over the years.


Ed Hughes previous theatre credits include Luna Gale (Hampstead Theatre), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Vault Festival), This House (National Theatre), Democracy (Sheffield Theatres), Enron (Headlong/Royal Court and West End), Rough Crossings (Headlong), The Canterbury Tales (RSC), Hamlet (Old Vic). His television work includes Ripper Street, Drifters, The Honourable Woman and Wallander.

WRITER – Sam Holcroft
DIRECTOR – Simon Godwin
VIDEO DESIGNER – Andrzej Goulding
CASTING DIRECTOR – Hancock Stevenson Casting

3 Oct – 7 Oct 2017 – Cambridge Arts Theatre, Cambridge
10 Oct – 14 Oct 2017 – Theatre Royal Windsor, Windsor
17 Oct – 21 Oct 2017 Theatre Royal Brighton
31 Oct- 4 Nov 2017 New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
7 Nov – 18 Nov 2017 Rose Theatre, Kingston


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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