Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Daniel Buckley: Lardo

By | Published on Tuesday 3 March 2015

When I heard about pro-wrestling themed play ‘Lardo’, which kicks off a month long run at the Old Red Lion this week, I suddenly remembered that I went through a brief period, years ago, when I became utterly fascinated by WWE (or WWF, which is what it was called back then) and the machinations of its colourful stars. So of course I immediately thought “well, that should make an interesting show, then”.

That said, it sounds like the play, with its very human, family-centred storyline will be entertaining whether you are a wrestling fan or not; I spoke to lead actor, Daniel Buckley, to find out more.

CM: Without giving too much away, can you tell us what ‘Lardo’ is about? Where does the narrative take us?
DB: ‘Lardo’ tells the story of a young pro wrestler who manages to get exactly what he wants, to the detriment of his personal life; once he finds success within a pro wrestling outfit, his blinkered vision of his own life is slowly removed and his perspective is completely altered. The story sees how he copes when he is pushed to his own limit, and how those people he innocently neglected choose to help him, or not, when things get too tough.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the role you play?
DB: My character is very innocently charging through life trying to better himself as a pro wrestler. His only real aspiration is to get booked with Tartan Wrestling Madness because they are a proper outfit and he wants to make his late father – also a wrestler – proud of him. As his name suggests, he is a big lad, but he uses that to his advantage and brings a real comedic streak to the ring.

CM: Other than the wrestling, does the show address any other specific themes?
DB: Family. It is really all about how one word can represent so many different groups of people. Lardo’s own father passed away when he is young, and he so he finds a father figure in his girlfriend’s dad, who is a great family friend. Lardo and his girlfriend find themselves in a position where they could start a family if they wanted. And the wrestling outfit is its own family, looking out for one another, working together and bickering like family (inside and out of the ring!).

CM: What attracted you to this play? How did you get involved with the production?
DB: I got involved in the same way I get involved in most projects – I received a call to say I had an audition. Because it is a new piece of writing, I asked if I could read the play to see if I thought it was a role I could bring to life, and I just loved the character when I read it. I called my agent to say I was really keen, went to my audition, and obviously did something right because I was asked to attend a reading to help develop the play, and given an offer just before Christmas.

CM: How did you prepare yourself for the role?
DB: The role is one of those parts where you know you are going to have to work your butt off (wrestling not included) to portray him with enough sensitivity and ignorance so the audience support him despite him hurting those around him to get where he wants to be.

Once I knew we were going to be doing real pro wrestling moves, I fooled myself into believing I would start getting myself fit for rehearsals… I stretched a bit and did about twenty press ups over Christmas. I don’t think that totally hindered me, though; I got a lot of reassurance in seeing other actors in the production be just as achy and sweaty as me when it came to week one of rehearsals!

I also got to relive iconic moments in pro wrestling history that I first witnessed as a child. Getting to re-watch WWE (WWF in my day…!) has been really fun. It’s amazing how much time can pass watching the same wrestler fight different opponents.

The character of Lardo is inspired by a brilliant Scottish pro wrestler called Grado and watching him was my highlight when prepping for the role. He is a great comedian and his promos are hilarious. The role of Lardo is comedic, and comedy is something I have done quite a lot of, BUT, this role requires some really intense, emotional moments so it is nice to be able to do a bit of everything.

CM: Do you like wrestling yourself? Do you think this show will have an appeal to actual fans of wrestling? Is it a show that people who hate wrestling will get on with?
DB: I forgot I enjoyed pro wrestling until I started watching it again for research. It reminded me of those times with my big sister, jumping off the sofa on to the cushions pretending we were Kane and Steve Austin. There are so many people who still watch and love pro wrestling, so this play will really appeal to them, as long as they know they are coming to see a play about pro wrestling and not a full on match! There are three key fights in the show that have real Pro Wrestling moves. Once those moments are happening, it’s as though a massive energy surges through the room and even people who profess to hate wrestling, will find themselves getting involved, whether that be screaming or just getting their blood pumping.

CM: There’s apparently an element of audience interaction in the show – can you tell us about that?
DB: It’s mainly just some moments during the pro wrestling fights. It’s going to be interesting in such an intimate space, but we have to grab the bull by the horns and do it full out. It’s mainly encouraging people to vocalize some support for Lardo and other wrestlers. It’s very clear when they are invited to be vocal – they are directly addressed as a whole. Of course, I can’t promise that people wont be singled out for not playing along. No pressure.

CM: What happens after the Old Red Lion run? Are there plans for further runs or tour dates?
This is it as far as we know. It would be lovely to see how this show might work in a different/larger space but then the whole performance space at the Old Red Lion being filled with a wrestling ring might just be one of the major contributing factors to making this show so original and exciting.

‘Lardo’ is on at Old Red Lion Theatre until 28 Mar. See this page here for more info and to book tickets.

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