With regularity, my world collides with wonderfully creative people, some of whom have experienced similar ‘day job’ working environments to me! It’s been a delight to start chatting to writer and performer, Francesca Mepham and I’m thrilled to feature her and hear about her latest play. Here’s an exclusive interview with the lady herself.
Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Francesca. Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it
R(ex)ception is a comedy play about an ex-couple Hannah and Mark, who work at an NHS Administration building reception desk. The pair are very much still besotted with each other, but just can’t get it together and the awkwardness of working together, makes it delicious viewing. There is also the array of visitors that Hannah and Mark encounter, which are all played by the one actress, who definitely interjects a lot of more blatant comic relief, that contrasts with the dry humour of the ex-lovers. R(ex)ception really fuses so many genres of comedy together, which makes it quite unique.
My initial inspiration for R(ex)ception, is from the fact I worked as a part-time receptionist at an NHS Administration building, on and off for six years. I had this idea of what it would be like to be working alongside an ex in such close proximity on a reception desk. Let’s face it, no one really wants to work with an ex! As an audience member you can hopefully identify, but not help be drawn in to the compelling awkwardness and romantic story unfolding on stage.
Was it easy to put it all down on paper?
I worked on isolated scenes, with the first two scenes written for a night of new writing at Canal Cafe Theatre, that Actor Awareness were holding in December 2015, it was their very first scratch night and my script got selected, with the Theatre’s associate director, Adam Morley directing it, which was incredible. The next three scenes were written for the performance at Clapham Fringe, last October. I have now written the final scene or chapter if you like, ready for it’s full length performance, which I can not wait for an audience to watch.
Is it translating well from page to stage?
As a writer, I have been very fortunate to have such a gifted team, wanting to be involved with R(ex)ception, which bring it to life wonderfully. Adam Morley, it’s director, has been part of R(ex)ception since the beginning and has been integral to the vision of the play, his direction for comedy is unparalleled and the cast we have of Charlotte Hunt, John Dayton and Rachael Hilton, are superb comedic actors. There is a real enthusiasm for the text and you can really see how everyone is genuinely having a whale of a time rehearsing and performing it. For performance at Theatrefullstop’s Pub Theatre Festival, it is only required 30 minutes of each play, so we are selecting a couple of scenes for it.
What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?
We just want the audience to have a great time and to be entertained by this fun show. We aren’t trying to make a political stand about the NHS, the characters of Hannah and Mark are exes that just happen to work at an NHS reception desk and the hilarity that comes from that situation. R(ex)ception is something fresh, but also endearing-you really root for this couple!
Finally, any advice for budding writers?
My advice is to always have nearby, a pen and paper, laptop, tablet or anything you can jot down notes, when inspiration takes hold. I can vouch, that for some reason 2am always seems to be the most productive, so be prepared!
Huge thanks to Francesca for a great interview, Break A Leg wishes her and the cast and crew all the best for 8th April!