Consuming Passions is a thriller in which a woman believes she overhears a murder being planned in a restaurant. It will be the first time that this show, written by Alan Ayckbourn, has been performed in Cambridge. Director COLIN LAWRENCE, and MANDI CATTELL, who plays Muriel, tell us some more about the show...
Colin, what drew you to this particular Ayckbourn play?
It’s always a new experience when you read a play by Alan Ayckbourn. His output to date is 87 full length plays. Even though Consuming Passions has a running time of just an hour, he considers it to be a full-length play rather than two interlinked pieces. And I think he’s right. Its Hitchcockian plot is a trail of events which can be interpreted in a number of ways. When I first read it, I saw it as a mini-psychological drama. On re-reading it I began to see it more as a thriller which draws the audience in and then leads them on until they have to decide what’s real and what’s not. And that’s the trick, really. It’s also worth mentioning that there are some dark comic moments as well as some lighter ones. Hopefully, I’ve been able to bring out the twists and turns in a way that will make the audience decide for itself what it is that’s actually happening to Melanie and those around her.
Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about the story?
Well, it plays out over three scenes in three different venues, the first two are restaurants and the third is somewhere else. We first encounter Melanie in a bistro waiting for some other people to join her. Very soon afterwards two strangers arrive and begin to discuss, what sounds to Melanie very much like a plot to kill someone she cares for. We soon discover that all is not what it first appears to be as Melanie finds it difficult to understand why her presence doesn’t seem to alarm the conspirators. To find out why, and what happens, well, you’ll have to come along to see the play.
So, no spoilers then!
No, I’m afraid not, but what I will say is that the penny should drop early on in the action and then you must have your wits about you for what follows.
And Mandi Cattell, you play Melanie. What appealed to you about the part, she sounds a complex person?
She’s precisely that. Melanie’s a fairly forthright individual, but who has, shall we say, issues. Playing someone like her has given me the opportunity to think hard about how to approach the character. She’s clearly in a predicament, as she sees it, not of her own making and that’s both frustrating and worrying for her, and that’s what I have to try to get across.
And intriguing for the audience?
Oh, definitely! There’s a mystery here and we want the audience to draw their own conclusions as to what’s going on. I’m not sure whether they’ll sympathise with Melanie, I hope they will, but you can never tell. I like her and really feel for her. At times she doesn’t know which way to turn for the best.