Pedro Leandro stars as Sam, alongside Eddie Loodmer-Elliot as Nick, in Fiji, the revival of the critically acclaimed true crime rom com, directed by Evan Lordan at The Omnibus Theatre.
Pedro Leandro’s writing credits include We Were Having a Perfectly Nice Time (Omnibus Theatre/Pleasance) and Dogsitting (Golden Goose Theatre). As an actor, his theatre credits include A View from the Bride (York Theatre Royal/Royal and Derngate). His television credits include Domina and The Liberator, and for film; Wonder Woman 1984.
Co-written by the trio, Fiji opens at Omnibus Theatre on 9 March, with previews from 8 March, and runs until 25 March.
You’re starring in Fiji at The Omnibus Theatre, what can you tell us about the play?
Fiji is a play about two men who meet up to do something unspeakable and completely taboo. Nick and Sam seem like two regular people, but they have a hidden desire. Fiji ends up being a true crime thriller blended with a deeply human love story. It’s inspired by a true story, but we hopefully take it in a slightly goofier and cuter direction.
It sounds like a very difficult balance, but I think the play achieves it beautifully (if I do say so myself). It’s disturbing and thrilling in parts but also just very sweet and intimate and funny.
You’re also one of the co-writers, what inspired the story of Fiji?
The first conversation I ever had about Fiji was with Eddie, one of the co-writers. We were talking about food and the future of meat, and we got to talking about cannibalism. We thought that it would be fun to write a sketch or a short play about two men that seemingly meet up for a Grindr date and then start savagely devouring each other (hilarious, right?).
We then started researching a bit and found the case of the Rottenburg cannibal Armin Meiwes, who ate a consenting victim in 2001. We thought that story was so interesting, and the concept snowballed from there and we eventually realised that the idea asked some lovely questions about the nature of love and consent and that it might be worth exploring these in a more long-form medium.
What’s been the highs and lows of writing alongside your co-star and director?
Eddie and Evan are both incredibly talented artists and it’s been a bit of a privilege to work with them on this show. On the one hand, it was a very easy show to create: we had a beginning and an ending to the story from the get-go and we just had to figure out the journey. On the other hand, every decision that we make about the show goes through the three of us so we have to find a way to reach a consensus every time, which can be tricky!
It’s been a lot of fun though: a lot of days spent going from café to café to discuss and finesse the script, arguing loudly about cannibalism next to mums with prams.
I think one of the greatest highs of the process was the night when the artistic director of the Omnibus Theatre Marie McCarthy first came to see the show in 2019. Her excitement sort of made us realise that we might have something a little bit special on our hands.
The lows were brought about by the pandemic. The Fiji tour got rescheduled half a dozen times and Marie was so kind about it, but it was just impossible to make a full run work. It was difficult at times, but it’s ended up deepening my sense of gratitude for being able to do the show now.
Why do you think the genres of true crime and rom-com blend together so nicely?
I have no idea! There seems to be a hypnotic quality to true crime. You can’t take your eyes off it and the more disturbing the better. And that makes for really fun theatre. However, we were sort of more interested in the human side of the story: how does it feel to be in this situation? Does it feel like love? What conversations do you have to have? And as we kept writing and discovering the world of Nick and Sam, we discovered that the tender, light, silly moments were some of our favourites. We didn’t necessarily set out to create a true crime rom com, it just sort of happened. And we’ve found that those different shades in the story really complement each other and help each other along.
Tell us a little about your character, Sam?
Sam is a fascinating person to me. He’s very intelligent and incredibly well-versed in emotions. He’s under no illusions about how weird and disturbing his desire is but he seems to sort of accept it as fact.
One of the things I find most interesting about him is his relationship to death: understandably, for most people, death is the be all and end all. For Sam, death is collateral to what he wants to achieve. Being eaten isn’t about wanting to die, but of course, in this scenario, that part of it is inevitable.
I find Sam slightly inspiring in a strange way: the way in which he just accepts his desires and feelings is really interesting and the complete opposite to the way that I operate. That sense of radical self-acceptance is quite awe-inspiring.
What would you say to anyone booking to see Fiji?
The first thing I’d say is thank you and well done for booking! It still feels strange for us to say but, when we first did the show at the Omnibus in 2019, reviewers said very kind things which might be pertinent:
Don’t let the subject of cannibalism put you off. This is a beautifully written, structured, produced and performed piece of comic theatre, that will make you both laugh and think. What more can you ask for? – Review by A View From The Outside