Emma Clarendon chatted to the director about working on bringing April De Angelis’s play Infamous to the Jermyn Street Theatre.

Hi Michael, could you explain what ‘Infamous’ is about? Infamous is the story of an amazing late 18th century celebrity, Lady Emma Hamilton. It’s an extraordinary story of rags to riches and back again. It also looks at the cost of fame and the impact it has on those around the well-known star – especially if that star is a woman. 

What attracted you to wanting to direct April de Angelis’s play? I’ve worked with April a few times before so another collaboration was too good to turn down. I’d also seen a brilliant exhibition at the National Maritime Museum a few years back all about Emma Hamilton and I found her story compelling – so it all just felt like the stars aligning and a good match. 

How has it been working with Caroline and Rose to bring this story to the stage?  I’ve worked with Caroline twice before and it’s always a pleasure. It’s been fascinating (and a lot of fun) watching the two of them work and collaborate; there’s a short hand between them that you wouldn’t get if they weren’t related – they could literally just dive into the work. We had a short rehearsal process so I could skip the part about the actors getting to know each other! 

What do you think that audiences will take away from ‘Infamous’? That’s always a difficult question to answer because – in a way – I think it’s good if the audience can extract their own meaning and understanding from the play. It’s a great story so I just hope we tell it well and as long as the audience don’t find it boring, then I’m happy! 

How does it feel to be bringing the play to the Jermyn Street Theatre? Jermyn Street Theatre is truly unique because it’s absolutely tiny! I think it’s very exciting to be this close to the action. We’re trying to tell Emma’s story ‘behind closed doors’ – basically all the bits not really in the history books – so we’re hoping that the audience feel like they are literally in the room with the characters. You can only really do this in a theatre like Jermyn Street. 

By Emma Clarendon

Infamous continues to play at the Jermyn Street Theatre until the 7th October.