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Brief Encounter with ... Long Day's Journey Into Night's Mawgan Gyles

Mawgan Gyles is about to finish playing Eric Birling in the Octagon's An Inspector Calls. He is also rehearsing Eugene O'Neil's Long Day's Journey into Night which opens soon. We caught up with him to talk about the writer, the play and addiction.

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Mawgan Gyles in rehearsals for Long Day's Journey into Night.
© Ray Jefferson, Bolton Camera Club

Long Day's Journey Into Night is a tough play for a performer. Are you finding that?

It is the toughest part I've ever had to play and may ever play.

So, what attracts you to a piece like this?

The journey Edmund has through the play is daunting and exciting. It is a great privilege and challenge to be playing Edmund. He is hugely complex and colourful. His journey through the play is one I very much look forward to going on every night on the Octagon stage.

It was revived recently with David Suchet. Why do you think it's still popular with producers and audiences?

I think it will always be a popular play as it's about family.

It also has timeless appeal because of the theme of addiction. But how do you stop it from becoming maudlin?

This has been one of our concerns as we rehearse. The only way is to always play a strong objective. Even if a character is seemingly wallowing in self pity, they are trying to impact the other person.

What does David Thacker bring to the piece?

David Thacker brings clarity to the process. If you get bogged down in it, and it's easy to do that, David is brilliant at refocusing you.

Is it an advantage having worked with the cast before in An Inspector Calls?

It's a great advantage to have worked with the cast before. Rehearsals were open, trusting and flexible from day one.

What do you like about playing your character?

Edmund is complex. But trying to get to grips with his relationship to his Mother is fascinating.

Why should audiences come and see the play?

We are staging it in the round, which will make Long Day's Journey Into Night even more immediate and emotionally engaging.

What's next for you?

I'll be returning to the Octagon stage to play Sir Andrew in Twelfth Night and Fred Beenstock in Hobson's Choice.

Long Day's Journey into Night is at the Octagon Theatre from 10 October - 2 November.