Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Alice McCarthy: You Game

By | Published on Friday 22 November 2019

Coming up at RADA Studios is a fascinating sounding reworking of Anthony Shaffer’s ‘Sleuth’, updated by writer Sam Ra to have greater resonance with current times, and with one of the characters changed from male to female.

Starring in the play is the very much up and coming Alice McCarthy, who cut her West End teeth in ‘Rotterdam’ and recently appeared in 2019’s ‘Downton Abbey’ film. I arranged a quick chat with her to find out more.

CM: Can you start by telling us about the narrative of the play? What happens in it?
AM: Well without giving it all away, it is about an older screenwriter who invites his wife’s new lover – me – over to his house to discuss an amicable divorce. A night of surreal game-playing ensues with some unexpected and darkly comic results.

CM: What is your role in it?
AM: I play Bella Lanson, a young theatre actress in love with Jack’s wife Alice. She is tenacious, witty, fiercely bright and vulnerable. All the good stuff!

CM: What themes does the play explore?
AM: It explores the post #metoo world were the old dinosaurs grapple with the fact that they no longer have the power. It explores gender power structures, love, ambition and ego.

CM: The play is based on Anthony Shaffer’s ‘Sleuth’, isn’t it? To what extent does it resemble the original? What is different about it?
AM: It is very similar structurally but obviously the main difference is I now play the role of the other man – now the “other woman”. A lot of the darkly farcical elements are still intact – there is lots of old school clowning and comedy still in there.

CM: How has changing the sex of your character affected the dynamic of the play, do you think?
AM: It is a much needed update into a modern context that challenges the original’s misogyny and rethinks its violence in a gendered way. It’s the only way this play can still make sense now.

CM: What attracted you to the role? What do you like about the character you play?
AM: I loved Bella’s ambition. It’s boundless and a little uncomfortable -which is normally a good sign. It is a very challenging role that requires multiple parts and accents so that is also a delight. Mostly I just wanted to walk that comic/drama line again – it’s my favourite place to be!

CM: Can you tell us a bit about Sam Ra, who wrote the play?
AM: Sam is a brilliant writer with a background in film. She is a passionate feminist and I think that reverberates in the script. There is something quirky and Pinteresque about her dialogue.

CM: Can we now talk about you a bit? Did you always want to be an actor, and how did you go about beginning a career in the arts?
AM: I always wanted to be an actor but was also a bookworm so I went to Trinity College first to study English. I then went to Bristol Old Vic to train for two years. The Olivier award-winning ‘Rotterdam’ gave me my first lead West End role and was my training ground in a lot of ways. This year I was in the new Downtown Abbey film which was an amazing experience.

CM: What aims do you have for the future? Where do you see yourself headed?
AM: I think I will start doing more television and film – I want to challenge myself with different media.

CM: What’s coming up next for you, after this?
AM: I have an exciting comedy project coming up next year and am working on my first play!

Alice McCarthy appears in ‘You Game’ at RADA Studios from 26 Nov-30 Nov. See this page here for details.