CFT: exploring the impact of murder

Petra Letang is the sole performer in random, the second half of the debbie tucker green double bill which opens the Minerva Theatre season at Chichester Festival Theatre (running until June 2).

Friday, 18th May 2018, 9:41 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:32 am
Petra by Manuel Harlan
Petra by Manuel Harlan

Told through the eyes of a young woman, random explores the unbearable sense of loss felt by a family faced with a catastrophic and random act – the murder of her brother.

Petra finds herself at home with the playwright.

“I have worked with debbie before. Her style of writing, how specific she is, how important punctuation is are a big thing with her. I find her writing really rhythmic and melodic.

“It is like poetry rap. Her writing is very stylised. It is also quite complicated. It never lets the audience off the hook.

“As an actor, it is challenging because it is not a natural way of speaking. It is really interesting.

“I first worked with debbie in a different capacity. It was my first-ever job ever. It was my debut at the Royal Court, and debbie was stage management and sound.

“It was about 20 years ago, and debbie was working behind the scenes. She was just quite quiet and unassuming, but she was really into music.

“I want to say it was five years later, and I had an audition for something that debbie had written. I remember reading it and thinking it was so different to everything else that was out there.

“It was really catchy but also really tricky. If you make the mistake of going unprepared into her audition or workshop, then you fail. You need to have the rhythms of what you are saying. There is a lot of repetition, but you can’t take it for granted.

“And then I worked for debbie in her directorial debut in 2010 in truth and reconciliation. Working with her was just amazing. She would say ‘There is a full stop there? Why haven’t you taken note of it?’ And when you do, you can see why. It does make such a difference. As an actor, you can get to a level where you just think oh yes, fine, OK, but it is very rare that you really get something that you can be very excited about.

“random is a one-woman show. We start off with the sister. I am playing five or six different characters, sister, brother, mother and dad and you get a bit of teacher. random was first put on at the Royal Court.

“I think that was around 2008 that it was first done, and I saw Nadine Marshall doing the show.

“Obviously, I didn’t know that ten years later, I would be doing it, but I think it was very helpful to see it in terms of now when I sometimes think ‘This is so difficult! I can’t do it!’ To have seen someone do it before helps you realise that you really can actually do this. You just have to push through and keep going.

“But also I just really enjoyed the show. I remember thinking that Nadine did such an amazing job that I would love to have a go at it one day. And I think now I am ready for it.

“I guess I have matured literally and also my career has moved on in terms of the choices that I am making, choices that are a bit more risky. I am not just wanting to rest on my laurels. I don’t want to do easy.

“The premise in the play is that it is a day in the life of this family. They all wake up feeling just slightly like there is something in the air, like there is something not quite right about the day, and then it unfolds… You will laugh and you will cry. It is such a universal story…”

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