LINUS KARP is back … in his critically acclaimed role as Bobby
Interview by Heather Jeffery, Editor, London Pub Theatres
HJ: Hello Linus,
It's good to have you back in your role as Bobby. I have a small challenge for you - could you describe the play in less than 50 words?
Linus Karp: Hello Heather and thank you!
Awkward Conversations is a story about Bobby who, after not being able to maintain any significant relationships, turns to animals for the love he craves. Although well-meaning he soon ends up way out of his depth - causing hilarity and heartbreak.
HJ: But how would your character, Bobby, describe his own situation?
LK: At the beginning of the play Bobby thinks he's found this great solution to him not ever fitting in - animals. In his mind he only wants what is best for the animals - he thinks he is right in a society that's flawed and full of double standards when it comes to the treatment of animals. I see him as someone who thinks of himself as a revolutionary when it comes to animal/human relationships.
HJ: Perhaps the success of this show which breaks such taboos is grounded in the playwright’s genius for subtext but it takes a lot of courage for an actor to do it justice. What made you think it was the right role for you?
LK: Comfortable is boring. I want to be challenged and tread new territories as a performer. The script resonated more strongly with me than any other text - it is just the right mix of awkward, funny, dark and weird. It's so cleverly written. I would have hated it if someone else picked up the script and did a London run with it so I had to do it before anyone else did. That being said, obviously I was terrified about performing it on my own and trying to do justice to such a brilliant script.
HJ: You’re the solo actor on stage and no actual or virtual animals appear with you, how do you go about giving the audience a sense of their presence? … And make it seem normal?
LK: Though the play is very much a one-sided conversation, Bobby is expecting an answer, which I think is a key thing to remember as a performer. It’s how he puts so much heart into it and often speaks to them as you would a human lover/partner/friend that brings the audience on board surprisingly quickly.
HJ: Is there anything about the role you really hate?
LK: Maybe how nervous I get beforehand? The play is very funny, but no matter how hard he tries Bobby is just an unhappy loser throughout the script. It can be tough going through that on my own every night - I remember going to see shows in Edinburgh and seeing how much fun people were having together on stage and I would miss that. That said, I still love every second of it.
HJ: You’ve played this role at Lion and Unicorn in London, at the Edinburgh Festival and here you are bouncing back again to perform it at King’s Head. Have audiences varied in their appreciation of the show? Were any offended?
LK: Yes - it was a different experience. We were very fortunate with the feedback from the first London run - it was a real confidence boost. In Edinburgh we would have the occasional walkout. First time it happened, during one of the first shows, a group of people left as soon as I referenced sex with animals, which is about two minutes in. It took me aback a bit - I don't know how that can be shocking if you've seen the title? Some people found the show too offensive to be able to sit through, but then again a couple of reviews seemed to think it wasn't outrageous or shocking enough. In the end the feedback was still hugely positive, but it felt great doing a show that created reactions either way.
HJ: I reviewed this play myself (at Lion and Unicorn Theatre) and described you as naturally funny. In fact, a little dicky bird told me that the word funny came up in all your reviews (original). Have you got a handle on why we find it so funny?
LK: Firstly, thank you. I think there's so much comedy in the forbidden and this text really goes into areas usually not explored. Then there are the awkward romantic situations which have always been popular in comedy. When you throw in the animal element it just becomes so bizarre that you can't help but laugh.
HJ: Is sex a laughing matter?
LK: Yes. It's the most fun subject there is. It doesn't matter how advanced or sophisticated we get, we still want to take our clothes off and rub against each other, which is ridiculous and silly. Despite knowing that it's something almost everyone is doing or thinking about it's something we don't discuss very openly - and in that there's space for a lot of comedy.
HJ: We don’t have all the answers, but do you think the play teaches us something important about ourselves?
LK: If you are open to learning. "It made me feel things I didn't know I could feel" was said by an audience member after one of the shows. I think the play does a great job at asking uncomfortable questions as well as empathising with a character that could so easily be portrayed as a villain. It has made me question where some of my own views stem from - are they actually my own or what society says my views should be?
HJ: Lastly, what’s going to be special about performing it at King’s Head Theatre in Islington?
LK: It's going to be very special as King's Head Theatre is my favourite Off West End venue, I love their style of theatre. It was where I wanted to do the show originally so for them to see the show in Edinburgh and offer us a chance to perform in their venue felt amazing. Rob Hayes' work has been performed at the King's Head Theatre previously so it'll be great to bring it back there again.
Awkward Conversations With Animals I've F*cked by Rob Hayes
Starring Linus Karp
King’s Head Theatre 12 - 27 April 2019
Following sell out shows at Edinburgh Fringe, Awkward Productions present their critically acclaimed production of Rob Hayes’ dark comedy about love, acceptance and boundaries.
One-night stands are awkward. One-night stands with animals are even more awkward. And when you’re as desperate for love as Bobby is, things are bound to get as awkward as f*ck. A one-man tragi-comedy, Rob Hayes’ play is a disturbing psychological examination of loneliness. The production tackles mental health, toxic masculinity and the absurdity of society’s treatment of animals.
@February 2019 London Pub Theatres Magazine Limited
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