Amy catches up with Paulus, who is currently performing in their show at the Edinburgh Fringe which is inspired by the life of Victoria Wood!
Hi Paulus, how have the first couple of shows gone?
Really smashing, thank you! I’m reliably informed that 19 people in on your first Edinburgh preview is a great start, so long may that continue. I didn’t wet myself and nobody died, so all good!
Why did you choose to write a show centred around Victoria Wood?
Vic has been my idol since I was ten years old, when my Mum and sister first introduced me to her through ‘As Seen on TV’. Doing this show with accompanist extraordinaire Michael Roulston gives us an opportunity to explore what her work in the 80s and 90s did for two gay boys growing up in rural England at a time of much less tolerance towards anybody different.
What inspired this show?
Now, look – it’s a massively funny and fun show but the honest answer is cancer and death. We lost Vic to cancer six years ago, and I know thousands share our feelings of being robbed of much more of her genius. My mother died from cancer during lockdown after a five-year battle whilst I was making the show and she is with me in the wings every day (not literally, of course – she’s in an urn on my dresser back in London!)
What can people expect from the show?
I’m told there’s some very long, very funny, very hard-to-remember song that people are rather fond of, so I guess I’ll have to rock that out – I’ll see how I feel. In total, we share 12 of Victoria’s songs and they are weaved together with my own narrative of what her work has meant to me and many others with lots of well-known quips, catchphrases and mentions of soup…
Is this your first Edinburgh Fringe?
Yes and no. I have been up to do open slots as my drag alter-ego on the free fringe in the fairly recent past and been in a couple of productions in my 20s and 30s, but I feel, post-COVID like a difference person to that one and hope that I can approach the challenges of the month in a much healthier way that the past.
If not, what are the best and worst things about performing at the Fringe?
This show has had the longest preview period in living memory – thanks COVID! – and so the opportunity to finally do a run for an entire month after 2.5yrs of one-off performances is what I have been craving since the start. Vic’s work is not easy to remember and I’m not getting any younger!
What do you love about cabaret shows?
The danger. Working without a fourth wall is a bit like inviting a vampire over the threshold of your house. Audiences can and will respond in all manner of ways when you open up the dialogue that I believe is crucial for a piece to be ‘pure’ cabaret. You need to have the chops to bat back their offers over the net like Andy Murray (should I be saying Emma Raducanu now?)
Did you always want to work in entertainment?
I put on my first Variety Show for charity with a group of my friends at the age of 15, and over the next four years we raised a total of £5,500 for various causes. Then I went straight off to drama school. Alongside this, I was working in hospitality from the age of 11 (my mum was a caterer) and that is all showbiz – or it should be, when it’s done properly.
What other shows are you excited to see whilst you’re in Edinburgh?
My director Sarah-Louise Young returns with her astonishing An Evening Without Kate Bush as well as a brand-new piece entitled The Silent Treatment. Michael is also accompanying my cabaret idols Fascinating Aida and my I have students up here launching solo shows entitled Madame Chandelier’s Guide to Opera and Blodwen’s In Town on the Fringe Free. Support the Free Fringe, people!!!!
Finally, with so many shows to choose from at the Fringe, why should people come along to Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood?
Because you get a free badge. In fact, there’s five different ones. You can have five badges. Also, I’m on at 2.30pm, so it’s the perfect place to let your lunch go down in the dark.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Looking For Me Friend: The Music of Victoria Wood is on at the Assembly Rooms until the 28th August (not the 15th) at 2.30pm. Tickets and info here