Interview with…Jared Garfield

Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted to the actor  about his role in The Unreturning at the Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Hi Jared – for those who don’t know what is ‘The Unreturning’ all about? The Unreturning tells the story of three young men returning home to Scarborough in three different time periods. In 1918, George is coming back from the western front having served in the First World War. Frankie, in 2013 is sent home after serving a term in Afghanistan and in an imagined future in 2026, Nat is returning as a refugee from Norway to Britain, that has plunged into civil war as he goes looking for his brother who he left behind.

Was there anything in particular about the story that made you want to be involved with Frantic Assembly’s production? I found the concept fascinating and original. All three stories exist in their own right, but there are many common trends that link their experiences. Frantic are known for their unique method of making theatre and telling stories. I along with the other cast members are graduates of Frantic’s Ignition programme, aimed to nurture talent and encourage young men to get into physical theatre. I would of course jump at any opportunity to work with them. Then there is Anna Jordan’s writing… which is just above and beyond. The play reads a bit like a long poem. The language is rich and full of complexities and nuances which makes it a challenging piece to work on for all the right reasons.

Could you tell me about the character that you play? I play George Hollins, a First World War soldier returning home from the western front. But for a puncture wound on his right foot, which is all healed he returns seamlessly unscathed. He does however bring home with him the invisible wound of PTSD, understood then as ‘Shellshock’ or ‘War Strain’. The brutal reality of the war is something he cannot just leave behind as his experiences continue to haunt him. It effects every aspect of his life right down to his relationship with his wife, Rose.

The play seems to be concerned at looking at the impact that war has on young people. What do you think that audiences will take away from the show in this regard? Audiences could take all sorts of things from this show. Whether it be about the waste of war itself and the suffering it causes to those who survive, or more broader ideas about masculinity and male strength. My hope is that audiences will feel moved by the stories of these characters and leave with a greater sense of empathy to such victims of war and conflict – of which there are many, home and abroad.

How has it been working on the production so far? It’s been wonderful. I feel incredibly blessed to be in a company full such lovely talented people. It’s been a real team effort to get the show to where it is today. Under the leadership of our brilliant director Neil Bettles the rehearsals process has been inclusive and fun. I know I can speak on behalf on the team when I say we all feel a strong sense of pride for what we’ve created… and that’s just lovely.

What can audiences expect from ‘The Unreturning’ as a production? As all Frantic Assembly shows do, it pushes the boundaries of storytelling in the theatre. It’s fast paced, incredibly physical and has an edge-of-your-seat intensity throughout.

By Emma Clarendon

The Unreturning continues to play at the Theatre Royal Stratford East until the 2nd February.

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