The actress chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in Tamara Harvey’s production of Orpheus Descending at Theatr Clwyd before playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Hattie Morahan and Seth Numrich (c)Johan Persson

Hi Catrin – how are you feeling about being part of this new production of Orpheus Descending? Really excited. Orpheus is one of his lesser known and less frequently performed plays so I think there will be many people coming to the story for the first time, and that sense of collective discovery always feels exciting. 

What stood out to you about the story?  All the repression! And the crazy mixture of brutality, sensuality and jokes, I think. There’s a current of violence, prejudice and ugliness that runs through Two River County, the ‘underworld’ of the play, but amidst the darkness is an enormous amount of heart, warmth and humour which makes this world very human and very real.

Jemima Rooper and Seth Numrich (c)Johan Persson.

What were your initial impressions about the play when you first read it? I was struck by how some of the themes are as pertinent to today as then: the labelling and suspicion of outsiders in communities, the persecution of difference that occurs when people are motivated by fear and mistrust; not to mention the amount of racism and white supremacy that depressingly persists in the world. But also the redemptive, transformative power of love, passion, art, and a sort of purification that happens through true human connection. 

How are you finding working alongside director Tamara Harvey and the rest of the cast?  I am absolutely loving working with Tamara and a company of the loveliest people. The rehearsal room has had everything that you hope for – playfulness, generosity, support, focus, biscuits and a shed load of laughter. It’s been great.

Laura Jane Mattewson and Catrin Aaron Credit: Johan Persson

Could you tell me more about your character Belulah and how she fits into the story? Beulah is a local woman very much ensconced in her community. She’s a gossip, a complete hypocrite, and I reckon massively sexually frustrated, but there’s also great heart and humour in her character, which is brilliant to play. At the beginning she and Dolly act as Greek chorus to provide summary of past events, which I think will be a nice opportunity to play with the audience.

What can audiences expect from the production?  A compelling, engrossing, sometimes challenging story busting with passion and humour and poetry and some gorgeous Blues music. It’s dead sexy as well.

By Emma Clarendon

Orpheus Descending will play at the Theatr Clwyd from the 15th-27th April and the Menier Chocolate Factory from the 9th May until the 6th July.