Currently co-producing and performing in A Pissedmas Carol, Issy Wroe-Wright tells Ruth Comerford about casting the show, and a particularly intimate feminist rant
How do you go about making a show with one drunk cast member?
The show would never work if there were tensions within the cast or if anyone felt uneasy around anyone else. When building a cast, we pay lot of attention to their comic timing and their skills and vocal ability – you can tell if someone can think on their feet and that’s a natural instinct. But the main thing is deciding who is going to get along with this person, and has this person got an ally in the group; how are they all going to merge together? That is what makes the show work. The audience is basically watching a bunch of friends have an absolute belter of a time on stage. We bring in new people every year, but we will never have a full set of new actors – we make sure there are a few veterans who are established. We always vet them before a show, so we make sure everything in their personal life is going okay, physically they feel fine, and mentally they’re all good. It’s not like: “Oh, we must get pissed every night.” It’s all very rock’n’roll on the surface, but we do take care of people, otherwise, we wouldn’t be able to go for so long.
What’s been the funniest or most ridiculous thing that has happened in the show so far?
I can only speak for myself – and I don’t know why I did it – but I decided to get my tits out on stage and my mum was in the audience. I was on a feminist rant and I did a little free-the-nipple moment.
How did you get into the performing?
I was always performing when I was a kid. I did Stagecoach and one day saw there were open auditions for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang so I dragged my mum along to them. The next thing I knew, I was playing Jemima at the London Palladium, it was kind of ridiculous. I knew by the time I left school, performing was what I wanted to do. Then I got into Mountview and did musical theatre.
What do you think needs to change in the industry?
I don’t think people take a punt on actors enough. The way that casting works now is just a conveyor belt of the same people over and over again, and I think it’s really important for casting directors to broaden their horizons. It’s so important we see diversity on stage. Go and see actors in smaller shows, because ultimately, that’s where you’ll start to find the ones who haven’t come through. There’s a lot of repeat casting of the same people for the sake of ease, rather than keeping it fresh and finding new talent.
What shows do you have coming up next?
We are doing Hamlet in Australia in January and Brighton Fringe with our old show Alice in Wonderland. This is our first collaboration with Sh*t Faced Shakespeare and Showtime, we are working with actors across the company.
First professional role: Foxcub in The Cunning Little Vixen, Royal Opera House, 2003
Training: BA in musical theatre at Mountview, 2012-14
Agent: Noel Gay
A Pissedmas Carol is running at Leicester Square Theatre in London until January 5