After performing in Locked Up by Heather Simpkin at a preview performance last year, Conor Cook is thrilled to be back at the Tristan Bates Theatre with the first full-length production. Directed by James McAndrew, Locked Up is described as “dark, wryly humorous and scarily relevant” and has a thrilling Roald Dahl ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ twist to the storyline.
Conor Cook discusses his new role in Locked Up running at the Tristan Bates Theatre from 10th – 28th July.
Tell us a little about the play and your character, Topher.
‘Locked Up’ is a story about trust and mistrust in the modern age of paranoia and threat. Topher and Declan have been thrown into a cell together after a long time of isolation. This new connection between the two strangers raises lots of questions about their characters and why they have been locked up and together. Who are they? Why are they there? And most importantly, what do they know?
Locked Up was workshopped last year by Bear In The Air Productions. What do you like most about the workshop process?
It’s great to have been involved from the beginning, working on the character development and overall arc of the story. It is very refreshing to be given a character and asked to flesh it out, which is what we have done with the whole play. Heather Simpkin, the author, came up with a 30-minute version of the script that we could play around with and after a performance and some script workshops she came back with the full script.
What inspires you most about appearing at the Tristan Bates Theatre?
It was a pleasure to perform Locked Up previously at the Tristan Bates Theatre and it’s great to be back in such a terrific space for new work. The Tristan Bates Theatre is situated in the centre of London and I’ve seen many friends perform there in the last few years. A huge thank you the Tristan Bates for supporting Locked Up.
What do you think theatregoers will take away with them after having seen the play?
Hopefully people will come away with a few questions of their own such as: what does it mean to trust a stranger? And in this modern world of terror threats and kidnapping, what do we do when we find ourselves helpless and vulnerable.
Do you prefer appearing on stage or on screen?
The majority of my work is stage, and I love it, but I’ve always been fascinated by film, so if ‘Locked Up: The Movie’ ever surfaces… I’m there!
What is your favourite role so far?
That’s a tough one, but last year I played Lovewell in ’The Provoked Wife’, which is a Restoration period comedy that fits remarkably well within a modern context. Lovewell was the ‘butler’ and made a mess of things by spreading rumours and falling victim to a temptress. Plus I got to drunk dance to ‘Hotline Bling’ every night… Good fun.
Do you prefer musicals, comedy or drama?
Well I love making people laugh and comedy is what I do most of, but you can’t go wrong with a good comedy musical! As for drama, it’s great to be involved in ‘Locked Up’ and get my teeth into a dramatic, serious play. I suppose my answer is all three… love them all!
Topher is a very serious character in a desperate situation. What appeals to you most about playing this character?
I find Topher quite sensitive. His barriers are weakening the longer he stays in his situation, but he often tries to fortify himself and Declan with humour. He is very human to me. He is constantly trying to methodically work out the situation to benefit both Declan and himself, while working to keep his own guard up. I enjoy his journey and developing friendship with Declan.
Tell everyone why they should see Locked Up?
I would say that it is a compelling story between two unlikely prisoners that must find a way to keep themselves alive and sane. Anyone who has wanted to be on the dark side of the two-way mirror or viewing the hidden camera of a cold white cell will find this play intriguing. Heather Simpkin writes brilliantly and gets inside of the mind of a prisoner. It’s both shocking, thought-provoking and a real exposé of human nature in Orwellian times.
Locked Up Runs at the Tristan Bates Theatre from Tuesday 10th – Saturday 28th July. https://www.tristanbatestheatre.co.uk/