A Woman of No Importance enjoyed a bang-up opening weekend, with near-sold out, enthusiastic houses. I had a chance to chat with cast member Kathleen Pollard at the post-show reception on opening night, and urged her to respond to the questions I sent the cast a couple of weeks ago. So here are her answers.
Q#1: Who do you play in A Woman of No Importance? Tell us a little about your character.
KATHLEEN POLLARD: I play two characters in the show: the first is a pretentious maid named Frances – servant to Lady Hunstanton; and the second is a shy tenant of Mrs. Arbuthnot’s house – who also essentially acts as her servant.
Q#2: Director Paul Hardy has changed the setting of the play from the 1890’s (which is when Oscar Wilde wrote it) to the 1980’s. What surprised you about making the time switch? Did you discover issues or social mores that were surprisingly similar (or not) almost 100 years apart?
KATHLEEN POLLARD: I was surprised at first when Paul announced his intention to change the setting…but I’ve been totally amazed at how timely the play really feels. Paul made some strategic cuts to the script, and the way the dialogue flows between the characters feels very modern and I think it lends itself well to the new setting. Gender biases and the social expectations of men and women haven’t changed that much, it would seem. The actors have also done a tremendous job of finding a rhythm to their way of speaking, which also really brings out the humour.
Q#3: Can you relate any anecdotes from rehearsal (e.g. : another actor – in character or out – doing something unexpected)?
KATHLEEN POLLARD: Hmm, well…an embarrassing moment for me happened during a run of the show in our last week of rehearsal before opening night. We were deep into the run, and partway through Act 4, when suddenly my cellphone alarm started going off. The phone was in my jacket pocket, which I’d left in the audience seating…and even though the ringer was on silent, the alarm went off at full volume. The thing is, my alarm ringtone is set to a dog barking. So for the first minute or so, Paul, Margot [stage manager Margot Devlin] and Angus [sound designer Angus Barlow] are looking around wondering whose dog is outside the theatre and why it won’t shut up. Then gradually it dawns on them that this “dog” has an awfully mechanical way of barking, and realized that someone, somewhere, had let their phone go off. I couldn’t hear it backstage, and there was about 7 or 8 minutes left of the show, so everyone soldiered on. But I certainly had to face the music once we finished the run.
Q#4: Do you have a favourite line or moment from the play – yours or anyone else’s?
KATHLEEN POLLARD: There are so many witty lines spoken throughout the play. My characters only have about 4 lines between them…but I think one of my favourite lines is Lady Hunstanton’s: “He died almost immediately of joy…or gout; I forget which.”.
Kathleen also filled me in on a little tidbit about Gillian English’s costume: the gold pleather pants that Lady Caroline Pontefract wears (Lady C apparently shares the wacky fashion sense of Eddie [Jennifer Saunders] in the Britcom Absolutely Fabulous) are very noisy to walk in. So Gillian has to carefully position her legs apart, or the pants will squeak!
The production has already garnered a couple of excellent reviews – see FAB’s at http://www.fabmagazine.com/fab-blog/next-gay-theatre-review-a-woman-of-no-importance and Life With More Cowebell’s at http://lifewithmorecowbell.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/a-woman-of-no-importance-time-travels-to-1985-alumnae-theatre/
A Woman of No Importance runs to Feb 9 – see http://www.alumnaetheatre.com/1213woman.html for showtimes and reservation info. You can purchase tickets online in advance (Thu – Sat shows only) at www.totix.ca Day-of discounts are available in person at T.O. Tix booth in Yonge-Dundas Square.