'Speak Now' Preview: Quilliam Brothers' Tea House

Jack Marley previews 'Speak Now' showing at Quilliam Brothers' Tea House, Friday 27th November 2015

16th November 2015

The play ‘Speak Now’ is about a wedding, or more appropriately, it’s about a bride and a groom and all the people they chose (and some they didn’t choose) to share the most special day of their lives with. It’s an ambitious new play, coming soon to Quilliam Brother’s, that follows thirteen characters as they reminisce, quarrel and confess within the confines of a secluded side room of the nuptial venue. Intended as a place for guests to leave their well wishes, the room and its rolling camera instead capture candid reflections on love, relationships and life.

Written, directed and performed by the creative duo behind Last Line Theatre Company, Sam Duda and Emily Nicholson are a couple who have always gravitated towards the performance arts. As ex-English students that are now working in offices around University, the pair drew inspiration from their own writing and others’, but also from their surroundings and experiences.

we've been intentionally minimalist

While the heart of their play seeks to dissect distinctive, vibrant characters, the commitment of the pair to play thirteen of them is a challenging one, as Emily concedes. “We’ve been intentionally minimalist. It’s a stylistic approach, so characters will only be visually distinguishable by minor details, but it helps contribute to the feeling that every character is onstage at once.”

Characters are the lifeblood of the story, and the intimate setting of Quilliam Brother’s is an appropriate vessel. Despite having never hosted a play before, the room tucked downstairs which is often reserved for cosy screenings of cinema classics imitates the setting of the play well. It anchors the drifting characters and for the audience, the effect is feeling in and one with the scene, with the tearoom bustle just beyond the door simulating the sounds of a wedding’s social hubbub.

Authenticity is therefore likely to be central to the play. As Sam explains, its characters and themes are firmly rooted in their everyday lives and memories. “The idea of a camera room emerged from a real wedding we’d been to. We had the framework but it was that which brought it all together”.

Authenticity is therefore likely to be central to the play

But the couple aren’t taking it all too seriously, there was fun in moulding unpleasant characters from the mental detritus of real-interactions with unpleasant people, and in imagining how they would behave in a situation where they are forced to get along.

“There were a couple of ex-bosses who helped with some of them,” Emily admits. “They’re exaggerated but they’re moored in reality…just taken to a ridiculous extreme”.

In a way then, Speak Now is immediately familiar when it seeks to recreate the awkward encounters we all experience at weddings; the meeting of two families and social circles, often with disparate world views and trying (but often failing) to reconcile those differences for the sake of the two people at the centre of it all. It’s fertile territory for drama, as Sam eloquently puts it- “if drama is conflict, the wedding is the ultimate dramatic stage”.

‘Speak Now’ is set for curtains up on Friday the 27th of November, with another showing the following night. Student tickets are £5 and available to buy from the bar in Quilliam Brother’s. With QB keen to support Last Line with further productions in the New Year, Emily and Sam are two young playwrights to keep an eye on.

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