Following a successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018, personality and national treasure Su Pollard (Hi-De-Hi! and You Rang M’Lord?, BBC) returns to reprise her role in Harpy by award-winning playwright Philip Meeks (Kiss Me Honey, Honey!; Murder, Margaret and Me), as part of an extensive UK tour this Spring.
Best known for her star-turn as Peggy in the BAFTA award-winning sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, the much-loved Su Pollard has had a career in showbusiness spanning four decades. She returns to the stage as Birdie in Harpy, a play originally commissioned for her, now under new direction by Abigail Anderson (Pride and Prejudice, UK and South Korean tour; Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing, Merely Theatre).
A tour-de-force performance from Pollard, Harpy is a heart wrenching exploration of one woman’s struggles with mental health and loneliness, manifesting itself through extreme hoarding. At heart it’s a bittersweet dramatic comedy, which showcases a grittier side to the Su Pollard of the eighties, and also asks us to look beyond our prejudices against those who appear to disrupt the norm.
The neighbours call Birdie a harridan and a harpy even though most of them have never even met her. They see her obsessive hoarding as detrimental to the value of their own homes. For Birdie, saving what others regard as the junk from her own life allows her to make sense of the world around her; her possessions are memories of a time past. Shunned by conventional society, she regards it as her duty to salvage these tiny histories that without her would be entirely forgotten.
Harpy is inspired by the retro cinematic sub-genre of Grand Dame Guignol – or ‘hag horror’ – wherein fading stars battled to survive by playing mad, potentially dangerous women or bewildered creatures in peril. Beneath their acting veneer were brave and brilliant women and Meeks is fascinated by their survival instincts. This idea of struggling and fighting for what we believe in comes to the fore in Harpy which seeks to explore mental health, questioning what madness really is.
Su commented: “I am thrilled to be able to bring Harpy to a wider audience across the UK, having first performed it at the Edinburgh Festival in 2018. I hope the new audiences enjoy themselves as much as I’m enjoying revisiting this complex character. Philip Meeks’ writing is both funny and poignant, and many people have remarked at how relatable the content is, openly tackling issues of mental health.”
Su Pollard will be touring in Harpy from 12 March to 2 May.
12th – 13 March King’s Theatre
18 March Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds
20 March Brunton Theatre
25 March Haymarket Anvil Arts
27 March Theatre Royal Margate
28 March Cornerstone Arts Centre
29 March Castle Theatre
2 April Pavilion Arts Centre
8 April Theatre Hafren
9 April Waterside Theatre
14 April Blackpool Grand Theatre
15 April Gala Theatre
16 April Old Laundry Theatre
20 – 21 April Leicester Curve, Studio
23 April The Horsham Capitol
25 April Hull Truck Theatre
28 April The Hazlitt Theatre
30 April Borough Theatre
2 May Lichfield Garrick Theatre
Photo credit: Karla Gowlett