1. The Writing
It’s written by Ayub Khan-Din. Ayub is probably best known for penning the wonderful East Is East - one of the most successful and best-loved British films ever! Ayub has been with us for quite a time during the rehearsal process, which has been invaluable, because his insight and knowledge of the subject matter is second to none. He identifies with the trials and tribulations of a family of siblings coming together to witness the death of an older brother while living in a Salford that is undergoing regeneration, and this has allowed us all real clarity in developing our characters and story-lines whilst remaining true to Ayub’s work and tell the story that is wanting to be told. Having Ayub with us during rehearsals helps us understand what emotions inspired him to put those words on the page.
2. It’s a world premiere.
Most of the world premieres of established British playwrights seem to take place in London, so having a new play by such a great writer having its ‘first outing’ is indeed a great achievement for the north west theatre scene. Ayub is from Salford and the play is set here, so the notion of it premiering anywhere but in the north west now seems incomprehensible. It also means that north west theatre-goers have a chance to say “I saw it first!”
3. The cast.
Throughout the play itself there is a real sense of community and this is reflected in the relationships that the cast have developed amongst themselves already. After the first week of rehearsals I remember speaking to Mark Babych, the director, and telling him that I had never worked with a cast that connected so well from the start, treating each other as old friends after only a couple of days of rehearsal. Some of the work coming out of rehearsals has been fantastic and I think it would be wrong of me to single anybody out as they indeed are all wonderful and brilliantly talented people.
4. It’s funny.
If rehearsals are anything to go by, you are sure to find this play hilarious. Despite the dark undertones that run throughout the play, Ayub Khan-Din’s brilliant observation of the human condition allows us to laugh out loud during the bleakest times, almost as a way of survival. Laughter heals, after all!
Family and cancer are the two strongest themes that run through the play. Two things that we all have, or will have experience of. One in three people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives, so it was very important to the whole team that we nailed the facts in order to play the truth of the story. With this in mind the cast met with two fantastic Macmillan nurses who talked us through the whole process from family members coping with the day-to-day care of a terminally ill relative, to pain relief and advice. On a more cheery note, we have also all been affected by family in some way or other. All The Way Home manages to capture the peculiarities of family that even on first read makes you nod in acknowledgment. I dare you to see the play and not recognise yourself or someone you know. Enjoy the show!
All The Way Home runs at the Lowry from 29 September - 15 October. For more information visit the website.