Canadian playwright Brad Fraser has forged a hugely successful relationship with the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester over the last 15 years. Previous RET productions of his work include Unidentified Human Remains And The True Nature Of Love, Martin Yesterday, Snake In Fridge and Cold Meat Party, and True Love Lies. Never one to shy away from challenging his audiences, the author’s explicit style has attracted acclaim and controversy.

His new play is 5@50 - his first in Manchester in two years, following glowing reviews for True Love Lies. We caught up with Brad during rehearsals.
 
Can you tell us the premise for 5@50?

A group of five women, all friends since high school and on the verge of turning fifty, discover one of their number is an alcoholic. An intervention is staged, badly, and hilarity and heartbreak ensue for all involved.

How does it differ from your other productions?

It's an all female cast which is new for me and it's also a more conventionally structured play. It is also the first play I've written with the RX's wonderful, in the round, space specifically in mind.

True Love Lies was incredibly well received. Is this production lighter?

Hopefully it's the same heady mix but you never know until you see it with an audience.

When writing roles for a group of females friends, how do you avoid Sex and the City style comparisons?

It's not that hard, other than an interest in shoes, these women have nothing in common with those women. My characters work for a living, have very messy lives and are, hopefully, not four whores and their grandmother (Thank you "Simpsons") talking like gay men.

What do you like about the British theatre scene?

It's not in Canada and I haven't alienated the entire country.

As a male, what are the challenges in writing believable female characters?

I'm fairly testosterone driven and the earlier work shows it but I'm also gay and not at all afraid of my more feminine traits. This play allowed me to put myself into a female headspace and I was quite surprised to find how accessible it was. That being said, I also have a mother, two sisters and a great deal of female friends who were most generous in sharing some of their most intimate thoughts and desires with me. Also Facebook was a great help in interfacing with all kinds of woman who were willing to surrender the most personal information quite cheerfully.

Will you stay in the UK with the production and what do you like about Manchester?

I leave a day after opening. My general modus operandi is get out town before the reviews. I love the energy and eclectic look of Manchester.It feels like the quintessential 21st century city to me. I find the audiences welcoming and open minded and I find the people at the theatre both competent and supportive.

Following 5@50, what's next?

Sex and drinking. I'll probably write as well.



5@50 runs at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester from 13 April - 14 May. For more details, click here.