We chatted to Carlyss about starring in the Donmar Warehouse’s revival of Watch on the Rhine.
Hi Carlyss – how does it feel to be part of this revival of Watch on the Rhine? It feels really exciting to be part of this special production and to be making my Donmar Warehouse debut. This theatre is one from my ‘bucket list’ so I’m delighted to have the chance to perform there and to be working on such a dynamic play with a fantastic team of cast and crew.
For those not familiar with the play what is it about? Watch on the Rhine tells the story of the Farrelly family who’ve been living in Europe and Washington DC respectively, reuniting after 20 years under very unusual circumstances. The play begins as a family drama really, and then takes twists and turns that you really aren’t expecting into more of a political thriller.
Could you tell me more about your character Marthe? I play Marthe de Brancovis a woman originally from the same place as the Farrellys, Washington. She has been married for many years to Count Teck de Brancovis a Romanian count, and they as well as Sara Farrelly and her nuclear family, are seeking refuge in the Farrelly residence under the invitation of Fanny Farrelly, the matriarch of the piece.
How has it been working on this production so far? It’s been really fabulous. Ellen, the director, has a glorious way of creating an open and engaged rehearsal room in which to play and discover. We delved straight in to exploring context, looking at American history between the world wars and also the history of the anti-fascist movement in Europe. We also discussed a lot of what happens offstage in the play; the relationships and how they’ve developed during the time that these characters are together. It’s been an utter pleasure watching my fellow company members work and gradually add more and more layers to these complex characters. We’ve also been working a lot with the young company to create their world and relationships to the adult characters and although they are young, they are complete professionals.
What was it that made you want to be part of Watch on the Rhine? A combination of really wanting to work with Ellen McDougall, work at the Donmar and also getting to explore Marthe, who I feel has such a deep emotional life and contradictory feelings about her position in society and her marriage– that really appealed to me.
What were your first impressions of Lillian Hellman’s play when you read it? I thought it was unique in it’s combining style and content. I was unsure of how it would look on stage and that really appealed to me too. That there was a possibility of creating something new and dynamic from these characters, that can relate to a modern audience and yet be set in such a specific time period.
How does it feel to be performing this play as part of the Donmar’s 30th Anniversary season? Thrilling and an utter honour. It’s amazing that the Donmar has achieved such success and status during its lifetime so far – here’s to the next 30!
By Emma Clarendon
To book tickets visit: https://www.donmarwarehouse.com/