Matthew Flynn On...A Streetcar Named DesireDate: 12 February 2012
Matthew Flynn returns to the Liverpool stage this month, following his well received role as Macduff in the Everyman's final production (before moving to a new building) - Macbeth. He stars in yet another iconic production - this time from Tennessee Williams - in the classic A Streetcar Named Desire at the Liverpool Playhouse, directed by Gemma Bodinetz. We caught up with him to find about about the piece, his character - Mitch and how his Macduff has gone global.
How are rehearsals going for Streetcar?
They are going really well. The first week tends to be set around reading it through a couple of times, and talking about things like set. Tennessee Williams is very specific with stage directions. Streetcar is only set in two rooms, so you can feel the tension grow throughout. We’ve been talking about our characters, and asking where they are coming from. This week, from Monday, we got on our feet, and were moving it around, seeing what’s going on in what seen. We’ve also had a poker game, and got taken to a Casino so we could learn to play. We need to look like we know what we’re doing and not look like total idiots. We’ve got two more weeks of rehearsals left.
This is a landmark play – how do you feel the Playhouse's adaptation makes itself stand out?
Well it is a prize-winning play, so why mess with it? People are interested in it because of the resonances it has with an audience. It’s a working class play, with working class men. We hope we make it as vibrant, bold and exciting as the play is. It’s selling well from what I know.
Why should people come and see the production?
I read it again when Gemma Bodinetz wanted to see me for the role of Mitch. I had seen the film, and in some way it has become more famous than the play. When you read the play, it is just as magnificently written. What I find fascinating is the resonance it has with modern day audiences. Tennessee was a gay writer, and the illusions were very much brushed over back in the day. There are also two strong female parts, which are iconic. It’s quite a modern take for women to have such scenes. It’s good that it also has humour in it as well, but hopefully we will be able to hear a pin drop towards the end of the play.
Tell us a bit about your role in the production – what do you find most challenging and what do you most enjoy about your part?
He’s a safe character, dependant and solid - a flip side to Stan, who is a firecracker. He is quite awkward and finds it difficult to express himself. What we love about him is his honesty and total desire to want to do the right thing, which makes it more difficult for him towards the end of the play. But underneath his awkward and clumsy way he is a passionate man. What I’m finding interesting is that as you do the play, we find different ways into the character – what makes someone make a decision? Hopefully, he provides a bit of humour too.
What is the chemistry between the cast like?
They are all a nightmare - I hate the lot of them! No. I know Amanda Drew (Blanche) and have met her a few times, which was always going to be nice. She is a fantastic actress and is brilliant as Blanche. She has the right attitude towards her. With the other guys, we met before rehearsals to have a chat and get to know each other, so we wouldn’t show up on day one of rehearsals to start this epic drama. There is a good mix of people in the play – with casting from the local area, and people like me, who are from London. They’re a great bunch.
It has been announced that Everyman productions are set to go global, with Macbeth becoming available as a digital download. How do you feel about this decision?
It was great when they came and asked if we wanted to do it. For me, as an actor, once the play is finished, it’s finished – other than a few production shots. Seeing yourself on stage in HD, where you can see all the warts, is a bit scary. You think, ‘God, do I look like that?’. They did a very good job of it, and recorded it from multi-angles. It gives you an idea of how it felt to the in the auditorium, and you can see the audience behind us. I will show my kids at some point when they are old enough. It was also the last show at the Everyman, so it was great to be involved in that as an actor.
What's next for you?
I don’t know yet. There is a potential of something for an American network, where I could be up to play either Peter or John The Baptist in the Bible Story. I’m hoping it might be Peter, but you never know. For now, I’m locked into Streetcar.
Matthew Flynn was speaking to Rebecca Cohen
A Streetcar Named Desire is at the Liverpool Playhouse from 17 February - 10 March.
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