Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Bethany Antonia: Lava

By | Published on Friday 1 April 2022

Opening at Soho Theatre this week is a really intriguing play that caught my attention the moment I read about it. ‘Lava’, by award winning playwright James Fritz, is set against the background of a terrible catastrophe – an asteroid has hit London leaving the capital city devastated – and the play itself offers a story of friendship and connection in the aftermath of that disaster. 

It’s the work of new writing company Fifth Word, co-produced with Nottingham Playhouse, and has a great cast, comprising Kacey Ainsworth, Dan Parr, Oli Higginson and our interviewee, Bethany Antonia. 

Bethany’s clearly a busy performer with stage and screen demands on her time, including a role in upcoming ‘Game Of Thrones’ prequel ‘House Of The Dragon’. Luckily, she was able to fit me in for a quick chat, so I could find out more. 

CM: Can you start by telling us about what happens in ‘Lava’? What story does it tell? 
BA: At its core, ‘Lava’  is a story about human connection. An asteroid has hit North London, and we meet our characters in the immediate aftermath of it. We watch each of them respond, cope, and grieve differently. It explores the drastic lengths people can go to, to make sense of, and express their feelings in a world that outwardly celebrates self expression. 

CM: What themes does the play explore?
BA: Friendship, self-expression, mental health, patience, honesty, grief, compassion, empathy and collective experiences. 

CM: Can you tell us about the character you play?
BA: I play a character called Rachel. She’s a portrait of somebody who just wants to make things better, doesn’t take no as option, and thinks she can save the world in a day. I love her, and I’ve had so much fun getting to dive into her world. 

CM: What attracted you to this role? What do you like about the character? 
BA: I absolutely adored the script. It’s a stunning story and I really just wanted to be part of the telling if it. I love Rachel’s energy. Its so liberating getting to play someone so optimistic, inquisitive and genuine.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about your fellow cast members? 
BA: Yes, Kacey Ainsworth, Dan Parr and Oli Higginson. They are a dream team to be working with. Each of our characters in the show are so unique to each other, as we each are as actors, which gives us so much room to explore, and have fun in the rehearsal room. It’s been really wonderful getting to know them over these past few weeks and I’m super excited for our run at the Soho. 

CM: Can you tell us about the playwright? Has he been involved in the ongoing production? 
BA: The play is written by James Fritz, and he’s been working on this play for years and years. He’s been really involved in the production and we had a great few days with him at the start of rehearsing where we really got to rack his brains! 

CM: Can we talk about you now? Did you always want to be a performer? What steps did you take to begin your career? 
BA: I did! I’d always loved performing as a child, and I started pursuing acting as a career when I was fourteen. I joined a local acting workshop in Birmingham, where we’d do weekly drama sessions, and occasionally have audition opportunities for things casting locally.

I got my first role in a short film a few months after joining, and was totally hooked. So I started writing to agents, and that was where it all began really. I did lots of local theatre, short films, commercials. And then got my first professional telly job when I was eighteen. 

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far? 
BA: I’ve been so lucky to work on such lovely jobs, I’ve loved all of them. There was something really magical about making my television debut in BBC’s ‘Doctors’, and then my first series regular role in ‘Get Even’. But the biggest highlight to date has to be being a part of ‘House Of The Dragon’ right now. Getting to be part of something so incredibly huge, and epic, has just been the most incredible experience to date. 

CM: How does your screen work compare for you to performing on stage? 
BA: It feels like a pretty big cliche to say that theatre has my heart, but it really does, and I absolutely love being on stage.

When I first started out, most of my work was live performance, so it was a lovely surprise when I started being offered screen roles. But in an ideal world, I’d do a play in between every screen job, forever!

Because you’re constantly using different skills, they’re like two sides of the same coin and I really love that. 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
BA: I want to have a career that excites and challenges me just as much in twenty years time as it does right now, so I guess my biggest ambition is just to enjoy every moment. And to keep working on a real variety of different projects that stretch me and excite me in different ways. I’d really love to do a musical at some point!

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? 
BA: After we finish touring ‘Lava’, I’m heading up to Manchester for a couple of months to work on a new TV drama. Can’t name it just yet, but it’s a gorgeous script! And then ‘House Of The Dragon’ premieres in August, so it will be straight into the excitement for that! 

‘Lava’ is on at Soho Theatre from 5-30 Apr. For more information and to book tickets, see this page here.

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