Picture the scene. Sunlight streams in through a smudge-free window. The scent of warm pancakes waft through the room as Dad reads his morning paper and the cheery, polite kids wander in for breakfast. It’s perfect, too perfect in fact, as Mary Laws’ play Blueberry Toast, which stars Gala Gordon, exposes.
Gordon made her stage debut leading the cast of Three Sisters at the Young Vic in 2012. More recently, she played Christine Keeler in hit Netflix series The Crown.
In Blueberry Toast, she plays the family’s mother, Barb, whose breakfast offering begins a battle that sets the family on the road to tragedy.
Gala Gordon tells us more about Blueberry Toast and why London is a fantastic city for theatre:
What is Blueberry Toast about?
It’s a dark comedy about a family breakdown, set in middle-class middle America. The recognisable characters – the smart working husband, the loving housewife and the enchanting, creative children – are set up at the beginning of the show. This idyllic setting is swiftly destroyed, with humour and horror, before the audience’s eyes.
What can you tell us about your character?
Barb wants to be a good, stay-at-home wife to Walt and mother to Jack and Jill. But she struggles with the confines of the traditional patriarchal marriage. Barb is smart, if not the intellectual her husband Walt claims to be. When she begins to challenge him, she finds a voice and a power within herself, with disastrous results.
What caught your imagination about this show?
It’s brilliantly written. Mary’s [the show’s writer, Mary Laws] use of language is incredible. It’s very funny and very dark. There’s a deep and growing sense of unease as you read or see it which makes it impossible to put down or draw your eyes away from. At the same time, it’s also very relatable.
Has anything surprised you during rehearsals?
How many emotions one character can display in one short play. It’s a rollercoaster.
How are you feeling about performing at Soho Theatre?
Performing in such a lively, vibrant theatre in the heart of Soho, with young and dynamic audiences, is the dream!
What was your first experience of theatre?
Playing Bugsy Malone in a school play.
Why is watching a live performance so special?
Because it can be so visceral, and anything can go wrong at any moment.
You co-founded Platform Presents, which is co-producing Blueberry Toast. Why did you start the company and what are its aims?
My co-producer, Isabella Macpherson, and I founded Platform Presents to give a platform to rising talent – actors, writers and directors – with a particular interest in female voices.
I was inspired by the off-Broadway culture of underground theatre in New York where young talent can take part in play or film readings. So we brought this concept to the UK to showcase rising stars.
We aim to build a collaborative and creative community filled with up-and-coming and established artists, through play readings and full productions, to find a new voice for theatre professionals.
What one piece of advice would you give aspiring performers?
See as much theatre as you can.
Apart from Soho Theatre, which is your favourite London theatre?
The Young Vic. It’s where I did my first acting job, Three Sisters, directed by Benedict Andrews.
Why do you think London is such a great place to experience theatre?
It has such historic theatres scattered all over the city, with unbelievable talent treading the boards each night. Theatre flows in the city’s veins.
Which one other London show are you excited about at the moment?
Where is your favourite place to visit in London?
Soho is such fun, both in the day and at night. It has the energy and buzz of New York.
What’s your top tip for a trip to the theatre?
Have a double espresso beforehand!