Naana Agyei-Ampadu stars in the London première of Bryony Lavery’s Last Easter, directed by Tinuke Craig, which will open at The Orange Tree Theatre.
Alongside Naana Agyei-Ampadu as June, the production also stars Peter Caulfield (Gash), Jodie Jacobs (Leah), and Ellie Piercy (Joy). Last Easter is a funny, moving and provocative play about the true nature of friendship.
Last Easter, starring Naana Agyei-Ampadu is at The Orange Tree Theatre 3rd July to 7th August 2021 and will be streamed live via OT on Screen on 22 and 23 July. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re playing June in Last Easter at the Orange Tree Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
The play is about June who journeys to Lourdes in France with her friends, after discovering she has terminal cancel. It’s about a group of friends in search of some sort of clarity in their own lives and trying to support each other whilst dealing with a difficult situation.
Tell us more about your character, what appealed most about June?
June is a lighting designer and a beautifully well-rounded person who is at total peace within herself, and just happens to have cancer. I loved her from the first read because her illness does not define who she is. She is never seen as the ‘victim’ of her situation but maintains her true self throughout every aspect of her story. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to portray a female character with a multifaceted mindset who doesn’t have to ‘explain’ who she is. She’s comfortable in both her strengths and her flaws and makes no apologies for it.
What is it about Bryony Lavery’s writing that excites you the most?
Bryony Lavery’s writing is poetic, funny, emotional, and ultimately, completely believable. She writes characters that are recognisable and relatable. Her writing has the extraordinary ability to have you laughing one minute and crying the next. I for one, am in awe of how she injects intelligence and wit into her characters, allowing them to embrace their idiosyncrasies without shame or judgement.
How difficult is it to find the comedy in a play with tragedy at its core?
Being in the rehearsal room, our wonderful director Tinuke Craig has created an incredibly safe space for us creatives to play, laugh and cry! So, we have had first-hand experience of the mixed emotional state that being in a close group of people can create.
At its core, the play is a love story about friendship and celebrating life amid struggles. It is written in a way that really highlights what happens in intense situations, where emotions can change drastically from one moment to the next and the comedy happens when you least expect it! I think staying true to this realism has really helped marry the two very different states together.
Have you got any favourite moments from the rehearsal room?
To be honest I think the first day of rehearsals was my favourite moment. It’s the first creative job many of us have had since the pandemic closed down most of our industry. That day was such a celebration and outpouring of joy for all of us in the room. It felt like a pinch me moment! We could now finally see the light after a long tunnel of the unknown. Many creatives have been affected so negatively in the pandemic, and realised that our jobs were not always seen as valid, so walking into the space gave me a sense of validation again, and we all had a shared moment of hope that things will get better. I am so honoured to be able to perform again and get back to some semblance of normality.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Last Easter?
I would firstly say, please come and support live theatre as we really have missed you! Then I would say that this is a great play that will make you laugh, maybe cry too, but you will be part of a shared experience of something poignant, truthful and with exquisite lighting!