Entertainment Views Interviews: Matthew Gould, Director of The Gulf

The European Premiere of The Gulf by Audrey Cefaly coming to Tristan Bates Theatre from

17th April – 5th May

Book tickets here: The Gulf Tickets 

This honest play looks at two women on a small fishing boat in the Gulf of Mexico and what makes their relationship tick.

Kendra, played by Louisa Lytton (Eastenders, BBC1; Strictly Come Dancing, BBC1; A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the British Shakespeare Company), and Betty, played by Anna Acton (Doctors, BBC; Casualty, BBC; Eastenders, BBC; The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Gillotts Theatre) are stranded on a boat together and forced to confront their differences.

The Gulf is a rare scenario yet it doesn’t home in on what you expect.  It is unusual in its lack of social commentary and its focus on the everyday problems they face.

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Director, Matthew Gould chatted to Entertainment Views about the production:

Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Matthew. First of all, I’d love to know when you’re working on a two-hander, how does your directional approach differ to working with a larger cast?

I think my approach becomes less focused you have fewer balls in the air. When I say less focused I don’t mean on the script but with two actors it can be about exploration and tangents and trying ideas because you have the time. With a larger cast you still encourage and have all of the above but you have less time to really look at them.

How does the space lend itself to the piece?

The Tristan Bates Theatre is very intimate and is usually played end on. Having said that the current artistic team is encouraging companies to try different things and when we decided to do The Gulf in the round the idea was enthusiastically welcomed by the theatre. In the round itself can be an intimate experience for all involved. In certain therapeutic circles during training the practice of ‘The Gold Fish Bowl’ is used having a ‘client’ sit on a seat and the trainee therapists sit in a circle round the room listening to the session. This creates the idea of eves dropping on a moment in time which is what the audience are doing as they watch The Gulf.

What do you feel the strengths of the script are?

The strength of the script is that it shows you the ordinariness of Betty and Kendra’s life and the struggles that that brings to them as a couple and as individuals.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

I believe the audience will see a lot of their own relationships in the conversation and that whatever the sex is of two people in a relationship the life choices and difficulties we all make are very similar to those of Betty and Kendra.

Finally, why should everybody come and see it?

Primarily people should come because seeing two women in a play with no-one else on stage is rare. It’s not a combination that is very common in theatre. However it is a play that finds humour in the everyday, humour in the suffering and sadness in the ordinary.

Huge thanks to Matthew for an informative and insightful interview.

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