We chatted to Calum about starring in Bloody Difficult Women at the Riverside Studios.
Hi Calum – could you explain what Bloody Difficult Women is about?Bloody Difficult Women is about the court case Gina Miller brought against Teresa May over the latter’s attempt to use prerogative powers to avoid a parliamentary vote on Article 50. Or, that’s the thread which stiches together stories about Miller’s marriage; May’s premiership; Paul Dacre’s infamous Daily Mail “Enemies Of The People” headline; and, the establishing of DExEu. It’s part docu-theatre, part satire and part political drama. If you’re thinking that all that sounds terribly dry, then you’d be wrong – it’s thrilling and funny by turn.
What were your first impressions of Tim Walker’s play when you first read it? I first read the play pre-lockdown 1.0 and remember it being full of unexpected details about events I thought I knew well. As you might expect from a journalist like Tim, it’s impeccably researched; and, because he knows Gina Miller and has worked with Paul Dacre, he’s able to present a side to them that goes beyond their public perceptions. Over the last two years Tim has distilled the script into something rich, zesty and fat-free.
How does it feel to be working with Stephen Unwin on the production? Stephen founded the ETT, opened the Rose Theatre in Kingston, has directed Judi Dench, Alan Cumming, Jane Asher, Denise Gough… and yet he keeps joking that “Trevor” (Nunn) or “Michael” (Grandage) is coming in later in the week to do the proper directing! The play has nearly thirty scenes and almost as many locations but Stephen has found a way to make sure that the story stays fast-paced and fleet-footed. It’s my first time working with him and I’m finding him to be precise, kind and full of theatrical anecdotes!
What attracted to you being part of Bloody Difficult Women? Tim is a theatre critic as well as a writer. A few years ago he wrote an absolutely stinking review of my performance in the West End transfer of Switzerland. I’m looking forward giving an equally stinking performance and bringing down his production from the inside!
What can audiences expect from the production? I think you’ll see some great performances (excluding my deliberately aweful one). Andrew Woodhall is a salty and machette-tongued Dacre. Amara Karan and Ed Kingsley and have a genuine relationship as Gina and Alan Miller. Jessica Turner’s Teresa May is perfectly recognisable without being an impression. And, Graham Seed turns a senior civil servant into something resilliant and vulnerable.
By Emma Clarendon
Bloody Difficult Women plays at the Riverside Studios from the 24th February until the 26th March.