Elander Moore chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in The Watsons at the Menier Chocolate Factory.

Hi Elander, could you tell us a bit more about what The Watsons is about? The Watsons is a brand new play by Laura Wade, based on an unfinished novel by Jane Austen. I’m currently sworn to secrecy but all I’m going to say is if you’re coming expecting a bog-standard balls and bonnets kind of Austen adaptation… you’re in for a bit of a shock. 

How does it feel to be bringing the piece to London? We originated the piece up in Chichester last year and had such an amazing time on it! We’re so lucky to bring back nearly all of the original cast and to be playing it at the Chocolate Factory. I hope coming to London can bring this show to a more diverse audience, there’s sometimes this perception that people of colour didn’t exist in Britain pre-Windrush and they did, and they weren’t just slaves and servants.  

What was it about Laura Wade’s play that made you want to be part of this production? I can remember the night I got the script through from my agent and sort of said to him “Really…Jane Austen?” I didn’t really ever think that would be for me. I got about 20 pages in and was hooked, it really was like nothing I’d seen or read before, and I sort of knew that even if I had to beg borrow or steal I had to be a part of this play! It’s a fierce, feminist battle cry and I love it!

Given that Jane Austen’s original story wasn’t finished – how would you say that Laura Wade has managed to retain her style? We don’t know specifically why Austen gave up on this novel, she just did and she left behind these beautiful, interesting half formed characters. I think what Laura’s done with these loose ends is just incredible, she hasn’t just tied them up neatly as expected she’s woven them into something truly spectacular and I’m so excited to get it back in front of an audience.

What do you think audiences will enjoy the most about this production? I hope audiences will appreciate the unexpected turns this play takes and its continuing outrageous sense of mischief.   

What have you enjoyed the most about working on this production so far?  Without a doubt it’s got to be this cast and creative team! Sam West, our director leads probably one of the most collaborative rehearsal rooms I’ve been in! No idea goes unexplored. This process has definitely taken me to the heart of why i wanted to be an actor as a kid. You get to dress up, mess around for a few hours and most of all have fun doing it!

By Emma Clarendon

The Watsons continues to play at the Menier Chocolate Factory until the 16th November.

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