To find out more about Festival 47 and the spotlights, please see the introductory article.
Next in our Spotlight feature is Britney in: John, which plays Festival 47 from 12 July 2017 at 20:00. I caught up with writer and actor Ellen Robertson:
Describe your show in three words.
Spoiler: Ellen dies.
Tell us a bit more about your theatre company.
We are Britney, a sketch duo, and we took our first show, called Britney, to the Edinburgh Fringe last year (and then Vault Festival and Live at Zedel), based on the true story of the two of us vs. Charly’s brain tumour (who we lovingly named, Britney the brain tumour) . Now, we are excited to be doing our second show based on the “early years”: When aged 18 we travelled America trying to make a documentary about lesser known founding father John Hancock. We are working on the show with Country Mile Productions, and are very keen to be making narrative sketch comedy that is a real show – an hour long production – rather than just an hour of sketches.
Is this your first time at the King’s Head?
We can’t wait! The King’s Head were very kind and enthusiastic about our last show Britney, so we feel very grateful for their support. It’s a fantastic space and venue to be trying out the new show! Plus, this time last year we’d never even done Edinburgh together so to have the chance to actually try out the material before the Fringe feels much more professional than we deserve.
Who else in the festival programme are you most excited about?
Adele Is Younger Than Us. We’ve shared a dressing room with these gals and they’re funny and lovely and (spoiler) older than Adele. They’re both forty three.
Who or what are your inspirations to continue making theatre?
First person that springs to mind is Charly’s older brother Dylan who aged 10 played Macbeth in Macbeth: The Musical. A very ill-advised school play for children, Dylan’s stirring and nuanced performance as the murderous king awoke something in both of us: the need to perform. (Also, he only cried a bit when his crown fell off which made up for the fact that he largely mimed the musical numbers as he was too embarrassed to sing).
What are the future dreams for your show?
We have one more work-in-progress show at Theatre 503 on 18 July, and then we are taking it to Bedlam at the Edinburgh Fringe from 2 – 28 August at 18:30. After that, we would love to bring it back to London, and obviously the ultimate dream is some sort of Hollywood franchise with car chases and gratuitous nudity.
What is the best production you have seen this year – can be any genre, style, in any theatre or performance space?
We didn’t see it IRL but Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King was incredible, Imelda Staunton in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf was mind-blowing, but obviously Dylan Clive’s seminal performance in Macbeth: The Musical will always take top spot. Whenever we’re feeling sad about the show, we pop on the VHS copy and it’s guaranteed to make us remember why we want to perform and kill King Duncan in song.
Is there anything else you want to highlight about your show?
Ellen doesn’t really die, but despite that we are having an absolute laugh putting this show together. We think it’s a show for anyone and everyone who’s had a dream and overconfidently pursued it even in the face of having no talent or knowledge. We’d also like to use this forum to finally put the rumours to bed: yes we bathe together; yes pics available on request. Thanks.
Writer: Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson
Director: Emily Burns
Producer: Country Mile Productions
Cast: Charly Clive and Ellen Robertson
Britney in: John plays King’s Head Theatre as part of Festival 47 from 12 – 16 July 2017. For more information or to book tickets, please visit the website.