James Grieve directs Alan Harris’ For The Grace of You Go I, which is the first of four world premiere plays in Theatr Clwyd’s reopening season.
For The Grace of You Go I stars Remy Beasley, Darren Jeffries and Rhodri Meilir and will be followed with Curtain Up, a three-week season of fifteen new plays from Welsh playwrights.
For The Grace of You Go I, directed by James Grieve is at Theatr Clwyd 12th – 25th June 2021. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re directing Alan Harris’ For The Grace of You Go I, what can you tell us about it?
It’s a very funny, moving story about a man in desperate times. Jim works in a pizza factory and his life is going nowhere. He has a condition called Depersonalisation Disorder which makes him feel like he has no control over his life, like he is in a film. When he watches the cult movie, I Hired A Contract Killer he feels a connection with the suicidal protagonist and follows his lead by taking a hit out on his own life.
How does it feel to be directing the first of four world premieres in Theatr Clwyd’s reopening season?
A real honour and a total joy. After such a long time away from theatre it is just so wonderful to be back with other human beings in a rehearsal room making a show. And having been stuck in my one-Bedroom flat in London for 14 months it’s thrilling to look out on mountains, fields of green and vast skies in this most beautiful corner of the world.
Theatr Clwyd is a very special place to work. It’s a stimulating and inspiring building led with passion by Tamara Harvey (artistic director) and Liam Evans-Ford (executive director) and staffed by the most brilliant team of highly skilled and endlessly lovely people. I love it here and I am grateful to be entrusted with the opening show of an exciting new season welcoming audiences back inside after so long away.
What first went through your mind when you read the play?
That I wanted some of whatever Alan was on! It’s such a bizarre set-up, a testament to Alan’s extraordinary powers of imagination and the vivid, technicolour worlds he conjures in his work. Alan’s plays remind me of Wes Anderson’s films. Quirky and surprising, heightened and hyper-real, yet completely relatable and recognisable. Alan’s great skill is to place ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. The play has a lot of very important things to say about mental health, isolation, loneliness and the failure of our society to help people like Jim, but it does so with such a light touch that it never strays from being a warm, funny, hugely entertaining comedy.
What aspects of Alan Harris’ writing have given you the greatest opportunities as a director?
Jim’s belief that the world is a film set and his life a series of scenes in which he plays the lead role is a deliciously theatrical set-up. Our set is a film studio and we simultaneously watch Jim live on stage and on screens as he is filmed by cameras around the theatre. Our brilliant video designer Daniel Denton has added lots of special effects wizardry so you have to keep questioning what is real and what is Jim’s imagined version of reality. It’s a gift to a director.
Tell us about the cast, and what it’s been like working with them?
It’s been an absolute privilege to work with three actors of extraordinary range, skill and verve. Rhodri Meilir plays Jim with astonishing artistry, humour and a deep well of compassion. Remy Beasley plays his pizza factory boss Irina with whip sharp comic skill and huge charisma. Darren Jeffries plays her husband Mark, who Jim hires to kill him, with terrifying power and deep sensitivity. They are a phenomenal trio.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see For The Grace of You Go I?
We know it is a leap of faith to leave your home and come to the theatre in these times. We promise to keep you safe in the theatre, and we’ll try our best to tell you a story that will surprise and delight you, make you laugh and maybe make you cry, and send you off into the night feeling alive, entertained and maybe even with a few drinks from the bar inside you. We can’t wait to welcome you back.