Q&A with Night Must Fall’s Niamh McGrady and Will Featherstone

Niamh McGrady and Will Featherstone took some time out of the Night Must Fall launch to chat with us about the play and why they love telling stories.

What attracted you to Night Must Fall?

Niamh: I find the character [Olivia] very intriguing and challenging and she kind of scares me. And for some reason I’ve got this weird thing where I have to do things that really scare me. It’s a really interesting play and, for me personally, I haven’t done theatre in a million years. I have been craving something that will really stretch me so this just had “challenge” written all over it.

Will: It’s a really, really intriguing play – in a seemingly serene world walks this seemingly kind of psychopathic, angry young man but, the more you read it, the more you realise actually it is much cleverer than that. Something has happened in this young man’s life to make him really, really angry but it’s completely covered with a front that is so smooth-talking, so charming. In short it’s a fascinatingly complex psychological study of a man, written in 1935, that is every bit as resonant now and I am really interested in looking at the play more to see why Emlyn Williams wrote that. He’s written an incredibly modern character.  It’s a really fun part to play, I think, because of what’s motoring him within versus that charming exterior, and the relationship you have with the audience with that.

Have you performed in a thriller before?NMF LEAFLET image-page001.jpg

Niamh: I’ve been working on The Fall but I think TV is such a different beast.

Will: It’s not something I’ve done a lot of. I once did a production of Motortown by Simon Stephens which was again charged by another angry but different young man coming back from war. This is a new challenge.

How do you like to prepare before rehearsals begin?

Will: I think we’re going to have to get it up on its feet very early because there are so many questions to answer. With that in mind, and with being in front of the audience in three weeks, I am going to try and be as familiar with it as possible. I can think about it a lot beforehand and I can certainly try and get as many lines in as possible so, after one or two rehearsals of each scene, hopefully it’s stuck.

What do you like most about live theatre?

Will: For me it’s a genuine sense of communion with people and sharing something. A lot of the jobs I’ve done have been at places like The Globe where you are really, really with people and the audience is completely cherished in that relationship. I think it is really important that we share things, especially shows like this that have a really modern sense about them and a disaffected youth and the sense of anger that can come from that. And the sense that you make people behave badly if you completely treat them like another. It seems that that’s what Dan’s struggling with – he’s been treated like another all his life and that’s when his anger comes out. I think there are a lot of people in this country who feel they have been completely unheard, that they do not have a voice and that leads to people behaving really badly. I think it is really amazing to be able to share stories like that with people, potentially in venues where they relate to that.

Niamh: It’s much more immediate. It’s live, it’s visceral; certainly for me the thrill of theatre is playing a whole journey from start to finish in one go. Because with TV you get out two or three lines then “Cut!” So what happens in your brain is you start to fragment everything into this beat, this beat, this beat… you don’t get to go through the whole emotion ever because ultimately an editor sticks all that together. So this is my challenge. Olivia’s a really complicated character but the joy of it is playing through the whole range of emotions from start to finish. That’s the thrill of theatre.

Will: You’re absolutely right. The idea of getting to the end of the night and telling a story; your involvement in those beats and being really present is something to be celebrated.

Niamh: That’s why we all do it – to tell stories and connect with people.

Night Must Fall rehearsals begin on Monday 25 July and it runs at Salisbury Playhouse from 6 to 24 September 2016 ahead of a national tour. Night Must Fall is a Salisbury Playhouse and Original Theatre Company production in association with Eastbourne Theatres.

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