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Matthew Floyd Jones

Matthew Floyd Jones. Photo: Rosie Collins

Actor, singer, musician and writer Matthew Floyd Jones is best known as the male half of cabaret duo Frisky and Mannish, but he also appears as solo char­acters, including Ruth Less. A former member of the National Youth Music Theatre, he has a diploma in piano from Trinity College London as well as a joint degree in English and classics from Oxford. Matthew helped devise Dickie Beau’s Camera Lucida, in which he now appears

Why did you go on to university?

I’d wanted to go to drama school from a very early age but I didn’t get in, so I squeezed [university] for all the extracurricular drama I could. I did all the Oxford University Dramatic Society stuff – but it also really challenged me academically.

What was it that drew you to Dickie’s work?

One of the very first varied bills that Laura Corcoran [Frisky] and I did had a really odd line-up. There was this guy who did this Judy Garland act, which is a really famous act now. I couldn’t believe he was so unassuming and yet his act was so full-on and so brilliant. We met Dickie again in Australia years later, and really got on. Every time I’ve been aware of or seen his work I’ve been really interested, but it scared me when he asked if I’d be interested in working on a project with him because what we do on stage is so different. His work is so naked and emotional, and what me and Laura are known for is very frothy and frivolous. But I just saw it as an amazing opportunity to watch and learn from him. Camera Lucida was so hard but it’s turned into one of my favourite things I’ve done.

How would you describe Camera Lucida?

Dickie wanted to investigate the idea of portraits of dead people, in the way that Victorians would take photos of the dead in a commemorative way, what we would now think of as very macabre pictures: dead bodies posed sitting up or leaning, so it looks like they’re alive. It’s really weird, fascinating and kind of amazing. Dickie’s looking at the whole idea of the absence of any movement, any life or personality in the photos, but you’re drawn to them. In a very experimental way, he wanted to explore the idea of those photos coming to life and what those people would be. It’s a very eerie, very haunting thing.

What are your future plans?

I’m doing a one-man show next year, based on my work with Dickie, which he’s going to help with as director and dramaturg. I’m really thrilled about it. It’s a black comedy about image, what my face looks like and being able to look in mirrors. It’s a bit raw, personal to me and unguarded. I’ll be working in very close partnership with Dickie, who I just trust to make it the best it can possibly be.

Camera Lucida runs at the Barbican Pit, London, from October 28 to November 8.

Frisky and Mannish – Just Too Much tours the UK in November and December.

For more on Jones, www.matthewfloydjones.co.uk

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