Ellie chats to Boadicea Ricketts who is currently starring in Biscuits for Breakfast at Hampstead Theatre.
How are you feeling ahead of opening?
I always feel nervous but really, I’m much more excited to show our work. It’s a very special script and the process has been so fulfilling. We’ve found a lot of joy in working out what way we think is best to tell such a poignant and important story about poverty and the difficulties it brings real people in ‘Modern Britain’. I hope people are moved by it.
In this production you’re playing Joanne, how have you found creating this character?
When you get a script that is as nuanced and as real as this play that Gareth has written, it feels incredible as an actor to get the opportunity to work on it. Partly because most of the work has been done for you by the text. My job is to understand my place within the script. I know Joanne, I’ve grown up with people like her, so some of my work has been drawn from that.
Preparation wise, I read over the script again and again which sounds really simple, but it’s so important that the words become my own, like, I almost want to not think about what I’m going to say, and I want it to feel natural, like the words are my own so I can be completely engrossed in what my other scene partner is offering me.
Could you tell us some of the main themes we can expect to see in this play?
The main themes of the play are food poverty which coincide with the cost of living crisis that we currently find ourselves in. This play humanises the statistics that are heard through the news. There are over 400 food banks in the UK with around 2 new food banks opening weekly. When I heard that, I was completely shocked. I think it is outrageous that our government are doing very little to ensure people get the basic necessities to live. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet an increasing population are needing to use food banks to get by. I think this government has a lot to answer for.
There are also some brilliantly interwoven conversations within the play about racism, the care system, class, and how childhood difficulties can shape you, but by no means need to define you. And within these themes, I remember how wonderfully strong people are when they may have endured such difficulties.
Which audiences do you think this play will connect with the most?
There is a wonderful love story in this play which is: uplifting and spicy, yet sincere and intimate. I think people will really enjoy and connect with that journey throughout the play.
I think people will also be able to connect to the characters themselves. Everyone knows a Joanne and everyone knows a Paul. With people being able to see themselves in these characters, I think people will be reminded how easy it can be for any person to slip into poverty, and really connect to that reality.
You’ve worked on some great projects in the past, including She Ventures and He Wins, and East, for which you were nominated for best actress. What’s been a career highlight so far?
I’ve been really fortunate to work on some amazing projects and can honestly say that all have been so special in their own way, so it’s hard to pick a particular one. I felt honoured to be nominated for Best Actress In A Play when working on East. A lot of of heart went into that show, as feels the same with this show Biscuits For Breakfast. This process has been a really special one. I feel really lucky to be apart of it. The team on this show have been incredible, and it’s been a real privilege to work people who are at the top of their game. I feel really proud of this one, especially as it’s a two hander – it’s been challenging, but so much more rewarding, and to work at the Hampstead where many-a-great actors have stepped onto the stage feels surreal.
How have you found working with Ben Castle-Gibb as Paul?
I’ve been very lucky to work with Ben. I couldn’t have wished for a better scene partner. Two handers can be intense, but the process has felt very easy with Ben. Not only does he offer really cleaver and exciting choices, he also has a willingness to try new things (I think that makes for the best type of actor). He’s so kind and has a real openness and honesty to his work. His dedication to the craft is something to behold. And I can’t wait for people to see him shine in this show.
And lastly, why should audiences buy a ticket to Biscuits for Breakfast?
People should come as see biscuits for breakfast, as it’s a really exciting new piece of writing that has a lot of heart, a lot of humour, but also a lot of important conversations about the state of the country. I think people will be gripped by where the plot takes them.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Biscuits for Breakfast is on at Hampstead Theatre until 10th June.