Playwright Kieran Lynn’s biting new comedy The Trap receives it’s European premiere at Omnibus Theatre from 31st October to 19th November 2017. Written by Kieran Lynn and directed by Dan Ayling.
“Welcome to The Debt Duck – the UK’s premier payday loans company”
Tom and Clem are deep in debt. Alan, Tom’s boss, owes big bucks. Meryl, Alan’s manager, is mortgaged to the hilt. When The Debt Duck’s owner liquidates the company and retires to his luxury chalet, Tom, Clem, Alan and Meryl each decide to crack the safe, steal some cash and put an end to their financial woes.
But will they break the cycle of debt? Or is this just another terrible trap? From the author of An Incident at the Border, comes a biting new comedy about the financial perils of a capitalist world.
Kieran Lynn chats to us about The Trap
Q: What made you want to write The Trap?
Kieran: The seed of the idea came from having two people caught in the beams of an alarm – not able to move for fear of setting it off. With this idea in mind, I started asking questions like: Who are these people? Why are they caught in an alarm? Is it a trap? Or are they committing a crime? I like writing comedies, so I knew I wanted it to be a funny scenario – amateur crooks bungling the job. Then, of course, the big question: what is the crime and why is it being committed?
I’ve always been interested in money and financial systems so with two people stealing some cash and all these thoughts swirling around in my imagination, the play took shape from there.
Q: How did you research it?
Kieran: I spent a lot of time researching the payday lending industry. It fascinates me – the idea of lending money to people; encouraging them to take bigger and bigger loans so that you can make larger profits from their financial hardship. I’ve always thought this was wrong – open to abuse and fraught with problems. As I discovered more about this industry, I was certain I had hit upon an important subject for the play.
Q: Why a comedy and not ‘simply’ a drama?
Kieran: I don’t really have a choice over what I write. I just start and that’s what comes out. Of course, I’m not saying that what I write is always funny, but I usually lean towards the comic. If I were to rationalise it, I think exploring the funny side of things is a great way of being serious and touching on the darker, more dangerous side of a situation.
We all like people who make us laugh, so when characters in a play are funny, I think we find ourselves caring more about them. This makes it easier to then shift into something more serious or to try to communicate a more sincere idea.
Q: How has The Trap evolved during writing?
Kieran: The story itself arrived quite complete. I then developed the characters and their relationships to better fit into the overall picture. The world premiere was in Texas in May this year and rehearsals progressed and the actors got their hands on it, I realised that certain jokes could be made funnier, various lines could be cut and information could be moved around. For the European premiere at Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, we’re continuing to make small changes and evolve the relationships between the characters. It’s a very enjoyable part of the process to see how it changes when it goes from words on the page to dialogue and action.
Q: Can you tell us about the story and what is at the heart of the production?
Kieran: The story follows the employees of a payday loans company who are made redundant and decide to break into their office in the middle of the night to clean out the safe. The heist doesn’t go to plan, and soon they find themselves in an increasingly complicated situation. At the heart of the play is a serious question – how people react when they are pushed into an extreme situation by a system that doesn’t care for them and isn’t interested in them and their lives.
Q: Can you tell us about the characters – are they based on real people or completely fictional?
Kieran: The characters are completely fictional. They’re a variety of people at different points in their lives – each of whom find themselves under financial pressure, whether that is the inability to pay their rent, a crippling student loan, unemployment, gambling debts or an over-expensive mortgage. Nearly all of us, unless we’ve been extremely lucky, have felt some kind of financial pressure.
Q: The Trap was staged first in the US in April of this year – what feedback from audiences and critics?
Kieran: Really positive from both. I was particularly pleased by audience reactions. The play was originally written for a UK audience and it is the first play of mine that has premiered overseas, so I was nervous about how it would be received. I was there for the first week of performances and it was great to see how audiences responded to the humour and the themes of the play. It’s always reassuring to hear people laugh – you know you’ve done something right!
Q: Does the play offer any solutions?
Kieran: I don’t know that there is anyone “solution”, at least not in the way that the solution for repairing a punctured tire is a puncture repair patch. Hopefully, this play reminds us that behind all the numbers and statistics are real people, with real needs, and they need support and care.
Q: What is the alternative to capitalism?
Kieran: This is so difficult to answer. All I can say is we need to focus more on humanity, helping those in need and providing opportunities for people to improve their position in the world.
Q: What input have you had in the creative processes involved in the portrayal of the play?
Kieran: I’m incredibly fortunate to have had the world premiere of the play followed so soon by the European premiere. And I’ve been even more lucky to have been involved with two really talented creative teams in bringing the play to the stage. It takes so many people to produce a play, not only from everyone on stage but all the people offstage – acting, producing, directing, marketing etc. The writer typically gets the lion’s share of but realistically I can only do so much, the rest is down to the talent and energy of all the people around me.
Tue 31 Oct – Sun 19 Nov 2017
For ages 14+
1 Clapham Common Northside SW4 0QW