Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Ashley G Holloway: Lesere

By | Published on Tuesday 7 July 2015

The latest show to grace the stage of the Jermyn Street Theatre is ‘Lesere’, a thriller set in France following World War 1, written by screenwriter and playwright Ashley G Holloway.


Intrigued by the subject matter, and by its vintage setting, I sent some questions over to Ashley, to find out more about the show.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the play – what happens in it? Where does the story take us?
AH: An English couple have settled in the South of France a few years after the First World War. When a stranger arrives, their lives are thrown into violent disarray and they are compelled to question the truth of who they really are in order to survive.

CM: How would you describe the play? Is it a thriller? Have you explored particular themes with it?
AH: ‘Lesere’ is a psychological thriller. The plot takes the audience through various twists and turns whilst exploring the complexities of passion, the burden of duty and the enormous impact of war on its survivors.

CM: What made you decide to write a play set in this time and location?
AH: I wanted to delve into the human capacity for surviving extreme trauma, so the aftermath of a devastating conflict like the First World War was an ideal setting. As the country had a number of that conflict’s most horrific battles waged on its land, I saw France itself as a potent symbol of that survival.

CM: Did you have to do much research about the area and period you have set the play?
AH: Yes and there were certainly some challenges, early 1920s methods of treating injuries being one of them! However, the real work of bringing the time and place to life for the audience has been undertaken by Ellan Parry, the show’s designer, who’s been inspirational.

CM: You seem to have had a pretty varied career thus far – can you tell us a bit about where you started out, and how you have ended up writing a play?
AH: I’ve been writing since I was young, mostly scripts and plays. ‘Lesere’ came about after Cassandra Tomaz, who I’ve worked with previously on several short films, invited me to write a period play.

CM: You have previously written film scripts, haven’t you? How different is it from writing for live performance?
AH: At the heart of any good piece is a compelling plot with intriguing characters the audience can relate to going through variously challenging experiences. Revealing that through dialogue and action in a film or on stage is of course different in some of the technicalities and the constraints (no close-ups!) but my actual writing process is pretty similar in either case: months exploring ideas followed by an intense few days getting a first draft on paper, then revision after revision after revision.

CM: Have you been hands on and involved with the production?
AH: I have worked very closely with the director, Donnacadh O’Briain, whose exceptional dramatic insight and vision have helped shape ‘Lesere’ into a much stronger theatrical experience. And I’ve learned so much just watching our fantastic production team in action whilst trying not to get in their way!

CM: What’s next for you? Are you working on any new scripts?
AH: I’m currently writing the script for ‘Bird Island’, a global conspiracy thriller set in the 1980s. I’m also writing ‘Hounds of Plenty’, a stage play version of another of my film scripts ‘Jamestown’, set in eighteenth century Britain and America and best described as ‘Pulp Fiction’ meets ‘Pride and Prejudice’. And, finally, I am continuing to develop a TV crime drama series called ‘Dark Parts’.

‘Lesere’ is on at Jermyn Street Theatre from 7 July to 1 August. See this page here for more info and to book tickets.