Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Amy McAllister: The Noises

By | Published on Friday 29 March 2019

Opening this week at the Old Red Lion Theatre is a fascinating sounding new one person play, written by Jacqueline Saphra, directed by her daughter Tamar Saphra, and performed by the very talented Amy McAllister.

To find out more about the play and its themes, I spoke to the star of the show Amy, ahead of opening night.

CM: Can you start by telling us a bit about the plot of the play, and the perspective it’s told from?
AM: ‘The Noises’ is about a family’s pet dog, Luna. Luna is locked in a room in their house while the situation, first inside, and then outside the house becomes increasingly intense. What makes the play pretty special is that it’s all told from Luna’s doggie perspective!

CM: What themes does the play explore? What points does it aim to make?
AM: ‘The Noises’ explores themes of family, safety, love, and trauma, as well as of societal and political unrest. It begs the question, what do we need, really, to survive when the world around us seems to be falling apart?

CM: What do you think the motivation is for telling the story from the dog’s perspective? What does the show gain from this approach?
AM: Where do I begin?! It’s likely to be an interesting night out for a start! For any dog owners who’ve always dreamed of being able to read their pets’ minds, here’s a chance to have fun without resorting to a talking puppy movie in the kids’ section on Netflix. Luna is dealing with a grown-up world which has all the problems that we grown-ups endure and create, but through the innocent eyes of a family dog. Seeing how she acts out and interprets love, fear, rage, particularly when under stress, is a good reminder that we are all animals underneath our ‘civilised’ behaviours.

CM: How have you prepared for the role?
AM: Nothing can fully prepare you for playing a different species! I’m currently just over halfway through our rehearsal period and it’s definitely a challenge but that’s why I took the role. I’m really lucky to have an amazing team around me to help bring out my inner dog. I’ve also been staring at strangers’ dogs and doing sneaky copying. There’s always someone who notices me half-licking myself though, so yeah. Fun train rides…

CM: The show was written by director Tamar Saphra’s mother Jacqueline Saphra – has she been much involved in the production?
AM: Jacquie has been in quite a lot and is an absolute legend. She’s an extremely open-minded and open-hearted writer and she’s always more than happy to trim or change the text to help things along. I’ve got an unhealthy attachment to it and am often defending bits that nobody else is sure about but I think that might just be an actor thing…

CM: Can we talk a bit about you now? How did you end up acting? Was it what you always wanted to do? And what did you do to get your career started?
AM: When I was a kid, I used to go and see a panto every winter in the back of a cigarette factory, performed by the workers I think. It was MAGIC. I’d never been to a ‘proper’ play before I went to Guildhall (to train) but I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I’ve also always been interested in loads of things though so I try to live many lives at once. Alongside being an actor, I’d very happily be a street dancer, or play ice hockey, or make podcasts, or host a travel show, or teach kids to cook top notch food on the cheap…

CM: You have quite a few TV and film credits as well as working in theatre – how different is live performance? Do you have a preference?
AM: I’ve had great experiences in both settings but my reason for liking one is contradicted by my reason for liking the other. I love the fact that if you film something, it exists forever (except when I’ve been shit in it obvs). But I also love the fact that when you do something on stage, it will only ever have existed for the people who were there to see it.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your poetry performances? How long have you been doing that, and how did you get into it?
AM: I wrote my first poem when the back half of my bike got stolen. The rest kind of happened by accident to be honest. I met an amazing American poet called David Lee Morgan in a cinema lobby in Newcastle and he pointed me towards a poetry slam in London. After I won that, I started getting paid gigs, and then ended up having a collection published by Burning Eye. I’ve very much been focused on other things for the last while so poetry is mostly on the back burner but I’m representing London in the UK Slam Final later this year so I should probably get off my ass and write something!

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future?
AM: Honestly, I try to keep my aims and ambitions flexible. Different things excite or fulfil me at different times so I don’t attempt to second guess the things that Future Me will want. I only hope that I’m always brave enough to go for whatever it is that’s making my life meaningful at every stage.

CM: What’s coming up next for you, after this?
AM: I wouldn’t say no to a movie deal, or to playing Maggie Gyllenhaal’s sister in something (we have similar cheeks!) but I’ve got seriously itchy feet for a bit of a travel so I’ll probably head off on some misguided adventure, make a few random friends, lose my wallet, get food poisoning, learn to play harmonica etc.

‘The Noises’ is on at Old Red Lion Theatre from 2-20 Apr, see the venue website here for more information and to book tickets.

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