|Flying Under Bridges|
A stage adaptation by Sarah Daniels based on the novel by Sandi Toksvig
Thursday 31 March - Saturday 23 April 2005
Wed Mats: 2.30pm
Sat Mats: 3.00pm
For the second time in as many months, a star of one of the UK’s most popular ‘sit coms’ is appearing at the Watford Palace.
Julia Hills, who played man-hungry Rona in 2 Point 4 Children follows Belinda Lang onto the revamped stage of the Watford Palace playing Eve in Sarah Daniels’ adaptation of Sandi Toksvig’s book Flying Under Bridges.
Eve has a pretty average life for a middle aged wife and mother of two, in a sleepy home counties village until her father dies, her mother has a stroke and she has a dawning realisation that she has lost her identity. The result is murder – but how can such an ordinary life end up in such extraordinary circumstances for our confused heroine? Her life is one big round of humorous mishaps but this time it’s gone a bit far!
Julia interrupted rehearsals to tell us all about her character and how a story about such an awful act can be described as ‘a comic look at middle England that is warm, witty, sensitive and subtle’. Does she think she is confused – or is it something more sinister?
“Well, confused is certainly how I’d describe myself at the moment as we’re only halfway through rehearsals!” she laughs. “But hopefully all the confusion will go eventually and we’ll know exactly what we’re doing and we’ll be able to present it to the audience and they’ll understand every word of it!
“But the character of Eve is confused because she’s done a terrible deed and she doesn’t know why she’s done it” she adds.
“So the play really is an opportunity for her to go over her recent life and look at why she might have killed her daughter’s fiancé on their wedding day!
“Yet she’s a very nice ordinary woman and not somebody you’d expect to commit a crime of any sort let alone murder.”
This is obviously quite a crime, and the challenge for those dealing with the aftermath is to find out why she has done it. But, as Julia reveals, this play looks at how it’s not always possible to find a ‘reason’. Actions can’t always be explained away, or excuses made for them, despite our society’s need to assign blame.
“In the play, she’s being interviewed by a psychiatrist who would like to be able to excuse the crime by saying it’s a mid-life crisis or a hormonal imbalance or just find a reason why she did it” explains Julia.
“But through the play she [the psychiatrist] starts to say “No you can’t say that”. She wants to find out the real truth about why Eve’s done it and doesn’t just want to make excuses or find a way for her to get off.
“The play is saying that life isn’t simple and you can’t just judge people on either mad or bad. Sometimes there’s a very much more complicated story behind it.”
|"The play is saying that life isn’t simple and you can’t just judge people on either mad or bad."|
Despite some quite serious subject matter, Flying Under Bridges is also very funny, which of course is only to be expected from work adapted from Sandi Toksvig.
Flying Under Bridges was her second novel but she is probably best known for her numerous appearances on Whose Line is it Anyway?, Call My Bluff and Time Team. She also wrote and appeared in Big Night Out at the Little Palace Theatre - the final production prior to the refurbishment of the Watford Palace.
This play is essentially a warm and witty indictment of middle-English morality, and while its central premise comes out of a murder, Julia says that some of the best comedy comes from dark situations. And being a star of many comedies herself, she should know!
“Because of the extraordinary nature of the situation, I think it allows quite a lot of black humour” she explains.
“Eve’s a very nice person who’s in this position and thinks, “How did I get here?” In the play she’s relating the story and a lot of the time she’s relating it with that sort of humour – sometimes intentionally and sometimes not.
“We also go into flashbacks in her mind so they are how she remembers the other people in her family and her life - her perspective of them. So that means they can perhaps be a little larger than life.
“But I think that when you are dealing with dark and tragic situations, they are often a good subject matter for comedy” she adds. “Because sometimes things are just too awful to contemplate without being able to see it in the perspective of humour.
“A lot of humour has come out of terrible events and tragedies and it’s a way of people being able to deal with things that are uncomfortable to think about. It’s a way that they can confront things, so I think the best comedy is often quite dark – or maybe that’s just my taste – I don’t know!”
She also says that while members of the audience are unlikely to have killed their daughter’s fiancé, they will still be able to relate to what she’s going through.
“Women in particular, of a certain age, will really relate to her” she says. “She’s called Eve so she’s meant to be representative of a kind of an ‘everywoman’ type of person. Someone in middle age who has found herself possibly not in as fulfilled a life as she might have hoped.
|2 Point 4 Children|
“But I also think she’s a fairly general figure that people can latch on to and the humour makes it something that will appeal to everybody.”
There certainly does seem to be something for everybody in the production with the promise of music and ice dancing. Yes – ice dancing! Apparently Eve’s mother thought she was going to be a star ice dancer in her youth and never quite made it, but still loves to re-enact her best moments and her favourite routines.
“We have no ice on stage so it’s a bit of a challenge for the actress but she’s doing extremely well” laughs Julia.
“So we’ve ice dance routines and we’ve got music in the show, including Shirley Bassey songs because Eve and her husband are big fans” she adds.
“Ice dancing, music, comedy – a bit of drama and a bit of gynecology – it’s a bit of life really!”