Interview with Nicola Sloane and Ian Kelsey

Wiltshire Creative’s revival of John Godber’s September in the Rain stars Interview with Nicola Sloane and Ian Kelsey and is due to play at Salisbury Playhouse later this month. I caught up with Nicola and Ian to find out more.

Can you tell me about SITR?
IK: It’s a very funny nostalgic trip of holidays gone past. It’s all about prepping the car and leaving the house spotless before embarking at 6am to beat the traffic on the A roads. Small guest house rooms. Smelly donkeys. Fish and chips in bus shelters. And lots and lots of rain.

NS: This is a wonderfully nostalgic piece which covers a couple’s various holidays in Blackpool, from 1952-1984. From the journey there, to all the simple pleasures of Blackpool.

 What attracted you to the show?
NS: Firstly, the chance to do a 2 handed play, with Ian Kelsey, whom I’d admired in various TV dramas. Also, on reading the play, I was delighted that it gave me the chance to run the full gamut of emotions. The play is a gem!

IK: John Godber’s writing is so observant to the smallest detail in normal life. Just one sentence can whisk you back to a memory you would never have remembered. A Peter Kay of an earlier generation.

Tell me about your character.
NS: Liz is a loving soul, who feels that she’s not really understood by her undemonstrative husband. She’s funny without realising it – and has a childlike zest for fun. But has Northern grit, so can hold her own in an argument.

IK: Jack, my character, is a man of few words. But unleashed, he can’t stop ranting. He communicates with his wife with one word sentences or arguments. He’s not tactile and probably a little, sorry, a lot, frigid. You wouldn’t have seen him on love island if that show was running in the 50’s. 

How have you found working on the production?
NS: The rehearsal process has been such fun- we’ve laughed uproariously, told stories of our own holiday experiences and despaired at ever getting all the lines right or embedded in our muscle memories; despite the amount of work we put in!

IK: There is so much to learn for this play as it’s basically a conversation between myself and Nicola playing Liz, my wife and the audience. (we talk to the audience a lot) so in preparation I tried to be, ‘off book’ which is basically all lines learned. I didn’t quite manage that but myself and Nicola had done the same homework before hand so we have been able to bring the characters to life quicker than normal without the hindrance of holding a book to refer to. There has also been a lot of laughing in the rehearsal room. Our director Gareth and Deputy Stage Manager Karen keep a very tight ship and are keeping us both in line, sometimes………. Everyone at Salisbury is so lovely and it’s a joy to go to work every day.

How excited are you to get back on stage in front of a live audience?
NS: Beyond excited! Nothing can compare with the magic of being in front of an audience. Hearing the laughter and applause. It’s as if we’ve been through a drought and are ready to get soaked with the sound of people enjoying the play. Their responses feed and fuel our performances.

What can audiences expect?
NS: The audience can expect to be taken down memory lane, on a journey peppered with laughs and emotion. Even if they’ve never been to Blackpool, the experiences of Liz & Jack will resonate with everyone. Unpredictable weather, slightly disappointing funfairs, family bickering and soggy chips! This is a piece with real heart and just what we need after the pandemic we’ve all endured.

IK: I’d say to any one coming to see the show, firstly, thank you for supporting your local theatre and if you enjoy the show please spread the word. Secondly, don’t throw rotten fruit! 

It’s a funny yet moving show. You won’t be disappointed. 

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