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PSYCHODRAMA: Interview with Emily Bruni

Emily Bruni Photo by Ruth Crafer.
Emily Bruni Photo by Ruth Crafer.

Emily Bruni is starring in the world premiere of a thrilling new one-woman play, PSYCHODRAMA written and directed by Matt Wilkinson.

From 21st – 31st January, 2021 the downstairs room at Never For Ever, formerly Pizza East, in Kentish Town will become a performance space where Peep Show actor Emily Bruni will deliver Wilkinson’s monologue.

The creative team are all off-the-scale for this new pop-up theatre in Kentish Town, with a glorious soundscape by Gareth Fry (‘Harry Potter and The Cursed Child’, Olivier, Tony, Drama Desk, Evening Standard multiple award winner) that includes references to Bernard Herrmann’s stunning original ‘Psycho’ score alongside other eclectic musical influences from rock ‘n’ roll to Disney animation.

The protagonist is an actress with a history of mental health problems under investigation for the death of her director. From the police interview, to mundane details of her life, to auditioning and landing the role of Marion Crane in the stage adaptation of Psycho, it explores being middle-aged in an industry obsessed with looks and youth.

Read our recent interview with Emily Bruni

Q: Can you tell us about the development of Psychodrama?
Emily: Matt Wilkinson wanted to write a play that somehow integrated some of the stories we were hearing from contemporaries of ours, other actors, men and women, that ranged from really funny to a bit horrifying.

Q: What is at the heart of the production?
Emily: It’s the story of an actress in her 40s who comes under investigation for the murder of an auteur theatre director, whilst rehearsing a theatre production of Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’.

Q: How difficult has it been putting everything together? (re Covid)
Emily: The challenges have energised us. It’s been good to be in action and just find a way of putting on a show NOW, in a really cool ‘found’ space. A lot of the systems that are normally in place in a theatre – seating, ticketing etc, need to be created from scratch here, and that’s an exciting conundrum. We’ve put a lot of safety measures in place. Temperature checks, socially distanced seating, mask use, ventilation and deep cleaning between shows. There are only going to be 24 seats per show in a large warehouse space. This is a decision led by safety, but what it also creates, is a really exclusive theatre experience.

Q: ‘For many jobs, there’s also an emotional and physical intimacy, and your vulnerability is part of the transaction.’ How about ‘Psychodrama’ for you?
Emily: Ha! Well. I’m totally signed up for it. All actors are. Lots of jobs require physical intimacy, and acting is just one of them. What can sometimes be a bit eggy, (cue some of the horror and the humour in the play), is that there’s an intrinsic power imbalance written into the job. You sign up for being cast because of what you look like, (most of us feel we have a Quasimodo AND a Helen of Troy inside us, whatever we look like); you sign up for being dependent on others to be your eyes on your own work (a performance relies on the director’s gaze to help form it), and you sign up to use your emotions to play people in heightened states. All of which can sometimes contribute to a sense of vulnerability and powerlessness. And all of which Matt plays on brilliantly in ‘Psychodrama’, which is, in essence, a witty revenge drama!

Q: What do you hope the audience takes away from their experience?
Emily: It will play like a very gripping, fast-moving thriller. With a lot of laughs. We want people to be entertained!

Q: What makes this production a ‘must-see’?
Emily: The play is unputdownable. Matt is obsessed with story. Look at the design team who have got on board to do it in the middle of a pandemic in a non-theatre space! Gareth Fry who is going to build the soundscape for us, created the sound design for the Olympic Ceremony, and ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ in the West End and on Broadway. Elliot Griggs who lit ‘Fleabag’ is lighting the show. James Turner, who has collaborated several times with Elliot, and with me on ‘Donkey Heart’ in the West End, is doing the design. In a piece like this, where there is one actor, the design elements are like the other characters in the story. And look at the incredible artists that have come on board to do this.

Q: What next for you in 2020 and 2021?
Emily: More ‘Psychodrama’ TBC

The world premiere of ‘PSYCHODRAMA’ is at Never for Ever
(formerly Pizza East) 79 Highgate Road, Kentish Town,
London, NW5 1TL 21st – 31st January, 2021

Author

  • 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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