Phoebe Naughton plays Britney in Anthony Neilson’s poignant and comical delve into the nature of mental illness, The Wonderful World of Dissocia, directed by Emma Baggott.
Leah Harvey, BAFTA nominated star of the Apple TV+ series Foundation and last seen on stage in the National Theatre’s Small Island, will play Lisa.
What would you do if you lost an hour from your day? How far would you go to rescue what you’ve lost? In search of a lost hour that that has tipped the balance of her life, Lisa Jones is on a quest through a surreal world, filled with insecurity guards, flying cars, singing polar bears and wild-goose chases. The inhabitants of Dissocia are a curious blend of the funny, the friendly and the downright brutal.
The production opens at Theatre Royal Stratford East on Thursday 22 September, with previews from 16 September, and runs until 15 October 2022.
You’re appearing in The Wonderful World of Dissocia at Stratford East, what can you tell us about the play?
It feels like a wild play. A really wild play. Its playing with lots of different genres of theatre – it’s a real smorgasbord that has echoes of those fantasy books you read as a kid. But what’s incredible is that around this whirlwind of eccentric characters you have Lisa who, for want of a better word, is a bit of an ‘everyperson’.
I think most people will be able to see an element of themselves in Lisa, they’re someone who is going through something that is hard and real. But it’s just explored through a very theatrical way. And I love that. And then there’s the second half…
What was it about Anthony Neilson’s script that attracted you to the role?
Well it’s a funny and silly and ridiculous script but also touching and sad and tough. What I love about Anthony Neilson’s work is that it feels like he writes with the ‘actor’ in mind as well as the characters (of course). It lets you as an actor go big, go small, and even go medium and have a real sense of freedom in the roles that he creates.
Our imaginations are huge vast things that don’t really operate like films or tv and I think Neilson’s work touches that part of your brain. Letting you keep that inner child alive whilst also being able to hit on some hard adult topics.
Tell us a little more about Britney, your character?
It’s hard to know what to say about Britney. Britney is a lot. Britney is hectic. And Britney is Australian.
What’s it been like working with director Emma Baggott?
Emma Baggott is such a wonderful human being, as a director she brings such empathy and allows you to play, she feels like a mate in the room that sort of secretly shapes the play without you even realising. She’s a joy.
Is there an hour from your day that you would love or hate to lose?
Yes. Every so often, my cat likes to come into my room between the hours of 5 and 6. And then quite intently throws up a hairball. Maybe I’d lose that hour. Or whenever I’m waiting for anything. I’d quite like that thing to immediately be there. Without the waiting.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see The Wonderful World of Dissocia?
This play may make you laugh, may make you uncomfortable, and it may make you cry.
There is so much talent in the room, it’s awe inspiring for me to see and I would say it would be a real shame for anyone thinking about seeing this to miss those incredible moments. Also. If you’re thinking of coming then you might as well do it. You’re halfway there. What have you got to lose? It’ll definitely give you a lot to think about and talk about…