Patrycja Kujawska stars in Bagdad Café at The Old Vic, adapted and directed by Emma Rice. In a co-production with The Old Vic, Emma Rice (Romantics Anonymous, Wise Children) and the Wise Children Company bring Percy and Eleonore Adlon’s iconic 1987 film Bagdad Cafe to The Old Vic stage with their signature playful, visual and emotional style.
Alongside Patrycja Kujawska, the full cast includes: Nandi Bhebhe, Le Gateau Chocolat, Bettrys Jones, Nadine Lee, Sandra Marvin, Kandaka Moore, Renell Shaw, Gareth Snook and Ewan Wardrop.
Bagdad Café is at The Old Vic from 17th July, and will also be available on Old Vic In Camera, 25th – 28th August 2021. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re appearing in Bagdad Cafe at The Old Vic, what can you tell us about this play?
Bagdad Cafe is a play about unexpected friendship that grows out of misery, frustration, disappointment, chaos and dust. Itʼs about being lost in life, isolation, feeling misunderstood, unfulfilled dreams, but most importantly about hard wired need for human connection and sense of belonging.
Tell us about your character, and what you’ve found most intriguing about the role?
I play Jasmin, a Bavarian middle-aged wife whose life reaches a tipping point. After yet another argument with her husband that happens during their travels abroad, she decides to escape from an unhappy marriage and finds herself alone in the middle of nowhere, not knowing where to go. In search of a place to stay she stumbles across the dishevelled Bagdad Cafe.
How has the company approached adapting the cult film for the stage?
I watched Bagdad Cafe over 20 years ago and thought – what a wonderful, bizarre story full of warmth and hope. I’ve watched it again couple of months ago before we started rehearsals and it didn’t lose its relevance, it didn’t age at all. I also thought the film’s script is almost “theatre ready“. Very minimal – perfect to put our own stamp on it. Emma did a great job adapting it. We started rehearsing with analysing all the characters, celebrating their complexities and learning “Calling You”, the gorgeous music theme.
This isn’t the first time you’ve worked with Emma Rice, what is it about Wise Children that keeps you coming back?
Bagdad Cafe will be my seventh show directed by Emma. I keep coming back because she asks me to! And thank the gods of theatre she invited me to work with her again, otherwise Iʼd be weeding my garden till kingdom comes – just as we all did over the last year full of lockdowns right?!
But seriously – I think over the years we have built some trust, understanding regarding theatrical language she favours. That language is rich with life music, layered choreography, puppets and humour that clashes with deep drama. Emma cherishes differences within ensemble, she never tries to unify and polish things too much, there is always a space for childlike mischief. Having said that – there is a humongous amount of talent in the room and Emma carefully conducts our motley crew of performers with wit and generosity.
The play will be available for in-person performances, and via The Old Vic In Camera, what challenges does that present in creating theatre for two different mediums?
We are now living in strange times full of uncertainty. If for some reason you canʼt come to the theatre to watch this show, treat yourself to a live stream. In the last week of August we will be performing to the cameras, to you at home sitting comfortably on your sofa. It will be intimate. It will be live though – so anything can happen, just like in the theatre!
What would you say to anyone thinking of booking to watch Bagdad Cafe?
We need hope, we need to reconnect. We need some music to soothe our souls. We need to laugh and cry together again. And we could do with some magic lo lift us all from the reality of everyday life. Come and visit Bagdad Café – all of it will be on the Menu.