The actor chatted to Emma Clarendon about starring in the first professional London production  of Merton Hodge’s  ‘The Wind and The Rain’ for over 80 years at the Finborough Theatre.

(c)Dave Buttle

Hi Joe, could you explain a bit more about what Merton Hodge’s play is about? Hello! So the play is somewhat autobiographical as Merton Hodge was a medical practitioner as well as an actor and playwright. The whole action of the play takes place in student digs in Edinburgh in the 1930s and we follow a group of medical students throughout their five years of training. I’d say the core of the play is about what it means to grow up, experience first love and wrestle with the expectations of others as well as your own aspirations and desires. 

It seems incredible it’s only getting a London revival over 80 years since it first premiered. How does it feel to be part of bringing it back to the stage? I know, we were discussing this just the other day in rehearsals. It was a huge success when it first opened and ran for over a thousand performances in London as well as having a successful run on Broadway. Whilst it’s clearly a period piece, the relationships and humour of university life that Merton Hodge captured so vividly have stood the test of time. We’re really looking forward to giving this play new life and bringing it to modern day audiences at the Finborough.

What struck you the most about the play when you read it? The writing of the play reminded me of other comedies of the time such as Noël Coward and Somerset Maugham. I think the characters are written so specifically and their relationships with one another are all nuanced; given the five year timespan in the play there’s a lot of scope for us as actors to develop these relationships on stage. There’s also a great balance of comedy and drama throughout, and up to the final scene you’re kept guessing as to how these relationships will, or won’t, resolve. 

How does it feel to be bringing it to the Finborough Theatre? I remember visiting the Finborough for the first time when I was in my second year at drama school to see a friend in a play there. I loved the intimacy of the space as it allows you to fully immerse yourself in the world on stage as an audience member. As an actor it’s daunting as there really is nowhere to hide but it’s an exciting challenge that I’m eager to take on.

How has it been working on the production so far? A lot of fun! We have a brilliant company of actors and creatives and it’s been a real collaboration in the rehearsal room. We’re moving into the theatre tomorrow so I’m excited to see all the costumes, props and set which Carla Evans has designed so brilliantly and for it all to come together. We’re excited to share what we’ve been working on in the rehearsal room so please book tickets and come along!

By Emma Clarendon

The Wind and the Rain by Merton Hodge, continues to play at the Finborough Theatre until Saturday 5th August:  https://finboroughtheatre.co.uk/production/the-wind-and-the-rain/

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