Ahead of Friday's show 'Between Us', we caught up with the creators and performers, Rachel and Alex to find out where the inspiration comes from and how they create their characters and plot.
Tell us about the show…
Alex: It's an inside look at one couple's relationship. We take inspiration from the audience to
create our characters, and then we tell their story. The show explores how great it is to be in love…and how awful.
So it's a drama then?
Rachel: Yeah, it's a relationship drama. Often it's pant-wettingly funny but the humour comes from knowing the couple. The same kind of laughter you get from in-jokes with your friends. My sister actually asked me this weekend why we don't find jokes that work and then use them in every show. And the answer is that they wouldn't work in every show. They are only funny in that room, at that moment. Here's my analogy: You tell someone an anecdote and they love it, and so you tell someone else the same thing. But they don't laugh, they just give you a polite smile. The anecdote is never quite as good the second or third time round. It would be like that.
How do you create your characters?
Alex: Our starting point is the anecdote we take from the audience. We use that to inspire our first line. And then the other person has a natural reaction to that line, a reaction which tells us
something about both the characters. And line by line the characters are built. By the end we talk about them as though they were fully rounded people all the way through, but of course they weren't. That's just the illusion that's created.
Rachel: And it's subjective too. In one show I felt that Alex had treated Rachel pretty badly, that he drove her away by being uncaring and aloof. Afterwards an audience member asked me if I'd set out to play a woman with a personality disorder! "Psychotic bitch" was how our friend Bobby
described her. But I was 100% on her side. I still am!
Alex: After a show Rachel and I talk about what we think was happening in the characters lives off stage, or before the story started. The really lovely thing is that we usually agree or even have the exact same ideas. It's a mind meld.
And how do you approach plot?
Rachel: I don't think we do. My experience is that the narrative arc has its own power and as the performers it's up to us just to ride that wave.
Alex: That might be how it feels but that's another illusion. In fact we are both making decisions
constantly. It's just that our brains are making those decisions so quickly that we aren't aware of
them. Like playing sport or a musical instrument.
Rachel: Either way, we owe a huge debt to 3000 years of theatre and story telling. Everyone can
feel what makes a satisfying story. We just tap into that. I've been in shows where people have
consciously tried to control the plot. It doesn't work. Just let the story tell itself.
'Between Us' is on Friday 13th April 8pm at the Bristol Improv Theatre.
For more information and to book your tickets CLICK HERE