Interview With…Jonah Rzeskiewicz

The actor chatted to Emma Clarendon about Coming Clean, returning to the Trafalgar Studios from the 8th January.

Hi Jonah, how are you feeling about starring in Coming Clean? Hey! To be honest; it’s a bit of an emotional cacophony. Naturally, I’m feeling rather afraid (the fear pertaining to this being my first play since graduating RADA) and likewise incredibly nervous – though my excitement for the work is by far the loudest. I think it’s also healthy – and to that end paramount – for one to be nervous, so long that they aren’t nerves for oneself, but rather nerves for the work. Because the work comes before everything.

For those who haven’t seen the play what is it about? Without spoiling it… Coming Clean places its moral compass in 1980’s London, just before the AIDS epidemic, allowing its needle to dance around the questions of infidelity and sexual ethics, all while championing wicked smart, and beautifully empathetic characters. The narrative winds around a couple of writers, Greg and Tony, both of whom are on the brink of their five year anniversary. Though it is the entrance of young thespian Robert that appears to threaten the relationship of our primary characters.

What were your first impressions of Coming Clean when you first read it? I thought it was class. Obviously the first read of anything should always be for fun – so despite knowing I had the self-tape to send over, I genuinely enjoyed the story. I think it is incredibly delicate in its nature, with Kevin Elyot’s masterful exhibition of weaving dialogue and gorgeous syntax subtly signposting the twists in the storyline. In particular, Robert’s character stood out to me the most (how fortuitous that I was auditioning for him!).

Could you tell me more about your character Robert? Absolutely. On paper we see a young, gay actor, struggling with his agent and his work, and taking up cleaning to make ends meet. When you let this character breathe you see his tenacity, his zeal and an incredible knowledge that aids him throughout the narrative. His lexis is one that proves arguably easy to pigeonhole him as a very amoral young boy (as indeed I fell into that trap between my third and fourth read of the play) and it took a very wide lens to see anything other than a psycho-sexual battle between love and manipulation. Now, however, I think his character centres around a very ordinary need to be sated. And I hope to find new ways of sating him when I am fortunate enough to take him on stage.

What was it that made you want to be part of this production? Honestly, it was probably the monologue I used to audition. Once I had felt a bit of breath on Robert’s lips I knew I wanted to be a part of it. That said, the opportunity to work at Trafalgar Studios is too good to miss – and especially under the guidance of the King’s Head team and the prospect of joining a talented cast.

If you had to encourage people to come along to see Coming Clean what would you say? Well, unfortunately, I don’t get to see as much theatre as I’d like to – but I think the script was too bloody good that I would have a made it a priority to come and see it anyway (even if I wasn’t in it, that is). I’d probably say that. Because it’s true.

Coming Clean will play at the Trafalgar Studios from the 8th January until the 1st February 2020.

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