In her own words, Lindsay Sedgwick did it again. After the success of her previous play Fried Eggs, Sedgwick is ready to present to the audience her new work: a love story about Lena (played by Julie Lockey), who grows her own man from a thumb that she rescued from a lab, where she works as a cleaner.
“A comedy about Romance, Rejection and Resourcefulness.”
I had a chance to sit down with Lindsay and Julie to talk about their upcoming play. Quite unique on its own, All Thumbs is performed and directed by Julie Lockey herself. This is Julie’s first experience of directing a play on a professional level. And, even though a number of directors were considered, Lindsay thought that Lockey got the essence of the play so well from the very beginning that bringing in an outside director might destroy the organic magic of it.
Apart from Lindsay and Julie, there is no technical crew working on the piece. On one side it means no exhausting tech rehearsals or illogical blocking and positionings, but on the other side: it’s entirely up to Julie and four small stage lights to make us believe in Lena’s world.
I asked Lindsay what was it that inspired her to write a story like All Thumbs.
“It goes back to when I was six or seven”, says Lindsay, “hiding under a round table in my parents’ house, watching something on TV. It was a black and white film and all I remember is that they found a finger in the woods, grew a man out of it and plug him in to recharge at night. It took me 20 years of teaching screen writing to find out what the film was. It’s Carry On Laughing. It’s not a horror at all.”
A good idea never really goes away. It takes sometimes longer sometimes shorter time to brew before starting to emerge shapes and spreading into something of its own.
According to Lindsay, when she tells others that All Thumbs is a love story, people tend to think it’s wired. But has the course of a love story ever run smoothly? No! And All Thumbs is no exception. It’s a love story with its own darkish twist.
Lindsay also reveals to me that after writing the piece she wasn’t even sure whether it was working or not. The fact that the piece was actually very funny and had potential only became clear after Julie did a reading of the play a couple of month ago.
Lockey, in her turn, says that when she read the play for the first time, she did not really understand what the story was about. The second reading clarified certain things a bit… and even now, when she in her final stage of rehearsals and knows the play probably better than anyone else, she says that she still finds something new in it for herself every time she goes through the lines.
Julie agrees that All Thumbs is a love story, but definitely not a traditional one. “It’s about love. About different kinds of love. It’s about unrequited love. She’s a loving person. She does things she’s doing best for him because she rescued him. He’s made the wrong decision by not looking enough at her and falling in love with her. She would be the best thing that ever happened to him”, says Julie. “She is lonely. She is scared of rejection.”
“And everybody reacts differently to rejection”, adds Lindsay.
In order to embody her character for this darkish comedy, Julie wanted to get the accent (Manchester) and the physicality right. It’s a comedy, but not a cartoon; so the character has to remain human and natural firstly and primarily inside her own self. She is crazy (and she’s good at keeping it from her co-workers) and she likes fantasizing about things.
Another challenge for the actor was to believe in what Lena is doing and why she is doing it; to make Lena’s truth truthful to the actor as well, instead of judging her and the decisions she makes.
Sometimes, the costume is as much part of a play as anything else is. Lena has a style of her own. She is very glamorous… or would have been about 20 years ago. No so much now. And Julie has a very beautiful hideous jumper, as she calls it, and a fake fringe to help her transform into Lena.
When it comes to the most challenging thing about bringing up All Thumbs, Julie says that for her it’s definitely directing the piece she is in. She is ready to take upon herself the full responsibility for it. But something is telling me that she won’t have to, because the piece sounds like an absolute cracker and Julie, having had previous experience in comedy, knows what she’s doing.
For Lindsay it’s the fact that she’s actually written a comedy. And it’s the first time she produced a piece that revolves around one single incident rather than a whole lifetime of the character. The structure of this piece differs, too. “It’s more like a monologue”, Lindsay says “with her (Lena) dipping in and out of her fantasies.”
“But that’s how women talk”, jumps in Julie. You start with a joke, then you remember something else and talk about it for a while, then the train of thought brings you somewhere else and then, by the end of the piece, you finally go back to the joke you started with.
I ask if the piece has always been intended as a one-woman show. Originally being written as a short audition piece, Lindsay says that, even though “the man” is there, bringing an actual actor to play the part wouldn’t work. He is a sort of Lena’s fantasy and putting somebody’s face on it might completely destroy the illusion. That’s the brilliance of writing sometimes, with the same characteristics for off-stage characters everybody gets to have a hero or heroine suited to their own liking and created by the power of their own imagination.
Opening on Monday with the first show, Julie is ready to embrace a preview-free run. She says that to her it’s not going to make any difference, she wants to be equally good every single night and give a 100% performance.
#WakingTheFeminists and all of you supporting equality out there will be happy to know that All Thumbs is a play that is being brought up by an all-female team of theatre makers: from the writer, Lindsay Sedgwick, to the performer/director Julie Lockey, to production assistant Tamar Keane, to Graphic Designer Pamela Lockey and the photographer Barbara Henkes.
2 weeks – 20 shows. All Thumbs runs in Dublin’s International Bar on Wicklow Street from February 29th till March 12th. For more info or to book tickets, please, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: http://www.international-bar.com/2016/02/25/all-thumbs-by-moonstone-productions/