Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon spoke to Chris Larkin about starring in Pack of Lies at the Menier Chocolate Factory.
Hi Chris, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you tell me a bit more about the story behind Pack of Lies? As you may or may not know “Pack of Lies” is based around the real life events that took place in West Ruislip when the Portland spy ring was exposed in January 1961. How a very normal and unassuming suburban family became embroiled in the most important spy ring in British history. The play itself, within this story, explores the theme of lying and betrayal and the larger impact these thing have on oneself and others. How much impact a lie can have and what to does to the person telling and the person receiving that lie.
The story is based on true life events – did you do any background research into the original story to gain more insight? We have all done research in our own way. Mine was primarily into what life was like in West Ruislip in 1960. Googlemaps is brilliant. The houses and street are still there for all to see. I even went there to look at the street where the two houses are.We also had Gay Search come to speak too us. Gay was the actual daughter of the character I play, Bob. It was incredibly useful to hear her thoughts. Hugh Whitmore had interviewed her extensively when he wrote the original piece. We have also been looking in the larger subject matters such as spying, MI5, the KGB and the Cohens/Krogers.
What stood out to you when you first read Pack of Lies? The themes as I mentioned earlier is really to do with the impact of lying and lies. How they build up. How people lie to each other and the effect that has. How lying can make some people physically ill, while others can do it with consulate ease. That is what make Hugh’s play so fascinating. It isn’t the narrative. It is the impact those lies have.
Could you tell me a bit more about your character Bob? Bob is Barbara’s husband. A very normal unassuming man who is an aircraft engineer. Quiet and unassuming and at the start of this story. Happy and content. The events of the play destroy everything he hold dear and true. His world is turned upside down never to be put right again.
What stood out for you when you first read Pack of Lies? The themes as I mentioned earlier is really to do with the impact of lying and lies. How they build up. How people lie to each other and the effect that has. How lying can make some people physically ill, while others can do it with consulate ease. That is what make Hugh’s play so fascinating. It isn’t the narrative. It is the impact those lies have.
It seems appropriate to revive Pack of Lies given everything going on in the news. What can audiences take away from the situation the characters find themselves in? I think everyone in the audience will relate with Bob and Barbara dilemma. Given the current levels of espionage in this country right now. The events in Salisbury have brought home just how dangerous and how much both the Russian and British secret services are operating right now.
By Emma Clarendon
Pack of Lies plays at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 17th November. For more information visit: https://www.menierchocolatefactory.com/Online/default.asp