Thursday, 5 April 2012

Interview: Like a Virgin (theatre production)

"How audiences will come out feeling will blow them away."

Like a Virgin is a thrilling exploration of teenage life and the relationships between mother and daughter during this challenging time. Expect an explosion of emotions as the play exposes the tearaway lives of teens Angela and Maxine as they truant from school and form a girl band, hoping to walk in the steps of their idol, Madonna. Mother, Viv has a lot to contend with having caught her husband with another woman and struggling to control her daughter’s reckless lifestyle.

Brought to you by Reform Theatre Company, who have also visited The Gatehouse with My Favourite Summer, the play is set to take place at The MET Studio later this month. We chatted to actress Susan Mitchell who plays Viv and we discovered that there’s a lot more to teenage life than dancing around your bedroom with a hair brush in hand…

'Viv' and 'Angela' on stage- photo taken from

Hello, how’s preparation for the show going?
It’s going really well, we open a week today and everything’s going great. We’re just organising costumes at the moment and the girls' scenes are looking absolutely fantastic. The set is all up too and we’re ready to run so everything’s great.  

Aside from the title 'Like A Virgin', has Madonna influenced the play in any other ways?
Yes, there are plenty of Madonna songs in there. It’s just about two girls who, through their love for Madonna, are searching for love and acceptance and to live their dream- madonna is their teenage idol.

How do you think audiences will respond to the play?
It will take them through a complete wide range of emotions. Gordon Steele, the writer, has written some brilliant one-liners and it will have people in absolute stitches. However, even though it’s hilarious at times it’s actually heart-breaking at others and by the end there wont be a dry eye in the house.

Do you think both adults and teens can relate to Like A Virgin?
Yes, especially some of the extremely funny scenes. There’s a scene with the two girls where it’s a bit of a sex education lesson involving a magazine and it’s hilarious. Younger people are going to recognise the silly little things teenagers talk about and take from each other and how they build their friendships by finding things out together. 

The character you’re playing is Viv, can you tell us a little bit about her?
Viv is the mum of Angela and as a result of certain events she’s let her role of mother deteriorate and as such she becomes the one cared for by her daughter. It explores a role reversal between mother and child and the strength of children and their determination for what they want and how they cope with things. Throughout the play we see that Viv is actually a really loving mum who has just lost her way purely by circumstances that were beyond her control. We do see her redeem herself by the end.

The story has an element of seriousness to it, is it challenging portraying such emotion?  
It’s challenging and I don’t mean this in a negative way, the scenes can be emotionally exhausting at times but it’s definitely not challenging in terms of acting because the play is written really, really well. The emotion is there and all we need to do is say the lines without working overly hard but we do have moments where we have to take five after rehearsal after a particularly emotional scene. We can’t forget the comedy element especially with the two girls- watching them exploring being pubescent and the things they share and argue about is hilarious and really good fun.

What are the key messages or themes within the play? 
I think it is the innocence of young people, the strength of love and the pure determination of human beings.

Finally what would you say to people to encourage them to see Like A Virgin?
I think Gordon’s written a really down to earth piece of writing that will take you through so many emotions even though it’s just an hour and a half. It really is powerful seeing the characters dealing with the struggles that they face and it is a powerful piece of theatre in itself. To go through such an emotional journey in a short space of time and how audiences will come out feeling will blow them away.

Like a Virgin is on Tue 17th April 2012 at The MET Studio, Stafford Gatehouse. 
Reform Theatre Official

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