Caro Meets Festivals Interview Theatre Interview

Thomas Martin: If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You

By | Published on Wednesday 14 February 2018

You might have seen ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ when it was on at the Old Red Lion Theatre a wee while ago, but if you didn’t, definitely be happy that you have another chance to see this acclaimed production at Vault Festival this month.
To find out more about the play and the creative team behind it, I spoke to the play’s director, Thomas Martin.

CM: Can you start by telling us what the show is about? What story does it tell?
TM: ‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ is about two young gay men who find themselves trapped on the roof of a house. As the evening draws on, they confront some hard facts about their relationship, and the world in which they live.

CM: What are the primary themes of the show?
TM: What it takes to accept a person or a place, what it takes to love that person or place, and what it takes to be loved by them. It’s a really funny, bittersweet look at how people find each other even in the hardest of circumstances.

CM: Who are the central characters and who plays them?
TM: Alan Mahon plays Mikey, a charismatic tough guy who’s been fighting for his place in the world ever since he came out as a young teenager. Now in his twenties, all his friends have left rural Ennis, and he’s beginning to see that his thuggish ways haven’t left him with a lot of options. Josh Williams plays teenage Casey, who was brought to Ennis aged twelve by his alcoholic mother. He’s always hid his sexual identity, even as he and Mikey’s relationship grows deeper – an approach that upsets Mikey more than he lets on.

CM: What made you want to direct this particular play? What do you like about it?
TM: I was instantly taken by the language, the characters, and the setting – all three seemed to be working to conjure the richest pictures of Ennis, and as a result the characters’ psychologies were fascinatingly detailed. Even 18 months after the first staging, I’m wondering what the characters might do in other situations – they live with me. It’s great.

CM: What was challenging about directing it?
TM: Maintaining the tension and danger of height while also allowing for moments of connection and intimacy. There are so many factors that affect the actors’ bodies – it was a real challenge to keep track of them, but I think that makes for quite a rich audience experience.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the playwright? Has he been much involved with the production?
TM: I was intensely pleased that ‘Cocaine’ was John O’Donovan’s first produced play – he’d written a couple of full length dramas before, but the verve and personality of this particular piece made for a great entrance onto the British playwriting scene. After writing it he was very quickly selected for the Old Vic 12 and the Orange Tree Writers’ Collective – the plays he produced while on attachment there are very cool, and I can’t wait to see them produced. John was involved in the beginning and the end of rehearsals, but most of our collaborative work took place way before rehearsals started. I like to be heavily involved in drafting, and I’ll ask endless questions of a writer during the dramaturgical process. I’m sure he saw rehearsals as a nice break from that!

CM: This isn’t the first run for this production, and it’s already won much acclaim. Are there plans to take it even further?
TM: It was a blast touring the production around Ireland, and I’d be really interested to see how regional audience in England take to it. I think the play would also go over really well in New York, but who knows?

CM: How did you end up directing theatre? Was this what you always wanted to do?
TM: I did quite a bit of acting at school and university, but realised quickly that I preferred working with actors than actually being one. I also tried my hand at writing my own work for a while, but realised the above principle applied there as well. Then I just started meeting people I thought it’d be fun to work with – all of my projects have come out of productive creative relationships, rather than just from my own head.

CM: Where do you see yourself headed in the future?
TM: No idea, but as long as there’s a rehearsal room involved I’ll be grand I’m sure.

CM: What’s coming up next for you?
TM: I have a few new productions in early stages of development, I’m working on adapting my first opera from a really cool novel, and I’ll continue to run Beta Public, London’s only curated night of theatre and video games (the next one is 30 Apr at Camden People’s Theatre).

‘If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You’ is on at Vault Festival from 14-25 Feb. See this page here for all the details.

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Photo: Keith Dixon