You might know Gillian Hardie as one half of comedy cabaret act Caz and Britney. More akin to goofing about giving show tunes a Scouse twist, things take a dramatic turn next week for the debut production of her new theatre company, Kidakidder.
The show is a revival of 80s coming-of-age drama When I was a Girl I Used to Scream and Shout. Described as “a tale of sexual misadventure and the love-hate tug of war between mothers and daughters”, the play was written by Sharman MacDonald, netting her a most promising playwright award from the Evening Standard in 1984. Oddly enough, on my Google search the first thing that came up after her name was ‘net worth’ – what’s that all about – but after writing this play, her best known production turned out to be the daughter that followed soon after – Kiera Knightly.
MacDonald had sent her script to the Bush Theatre under a pseudonym; it was picked out of a pile by the actor Alan Rickman, who told the venue they should stage it immediately. They went on to work together on several projects.
It’s a play that tells its tale through flashbacks, starting in the ‘present’ of 1983 and working backwards through lead character Fiona’s life at points throughout her childhood.
It’s not just Fiona revisiting the past, as it is a story that stuck with Gillian from the first time she encountered it as a member of the Playhouse Youth Theatre.
She says: “I remember I was 18, and half of us went to Edinburgh with Cyrano de Bergerac and the other half went to Canada with When I was a Girl I used to Scream and Shout. I went to Edinburgh, so didn’t do the play then, but I don’t know what it was, I never, ever forgot it. It’s a gorgeous play, and I always thought I’d love to do it one day.”
A few decades on, and Gillian got to thinking about the play again – not only that, but some people from the past she hadn’t thought about in years. The catalyst was a Facebook page aimed at reuniting old youth theatre members. She found old friend Danielle Rude, and Everyman Youth Theatre former director Morag Murchison (nee Herd).
“I approached Danielle about it and she said, ‘oh, if you do it, I’ll definitely come and see it’. Both her and Morag had each stepped out of doing theatre. I said no – I want you to be in it. After that it all came together. There was a last minute drop out in the Unity’s schedule and we took it without thinking,” says Gillian.
Barbara Wallace and James Ledsham joined the company to complete the cast.
Following on from When I was a Girl… Gillian will be seen back at the Unity in November, in character once more as Caz of Caz and Britney fame, with a brand new three-night show for Homotopia Mis Les, followed by another show in the new year.
Meanwhile, catch Kidakidder’s When I was a Girl I used to Scream and Shout at the Unity next week from Thursday (July 11) to Saturday (July 13). For tickets and info, visit the Unity website.