Jason Durr is currently starring in the premiere of Contact.com by Michael Kingsbury. Directed by Ian Brown, the play runs at the Park Theatre until Saturday 14th February 2015.
The piece is described as a “startling” new comedy which explores the pitfalls of internet dating and the sexual and economic needs of two very different couples.
Best known for playing DC Mike Bradley in Heartbeat, Jason’s extensive theatre credits include: Black Coffee (tour), The Mummy (Belgrade), Donkey’s Years (Rose Kingston), Sherlock Holmes (West Yorkshire Playhouse/tour), Volcano (Vaudeville), Losing Louis (Hampstead/Trafalgar Studios), A Chorus Line (Sheffield), Wrong Side of the Rainbow (Donmar), Macbeth, Measure for Measure and The Blue Angel (RSC) and The Destiny of Me (Haymarket Theatre).
I recently spoke to Jason about why he’s excited to be doing a fresh and edgy play, being reunited with EastEnders actress Tanya Franks and why he loves performing in theatres of all shapes and sizes…
Contact.com is so different to everything else running in London at the moment – it is bold, daring and different. What were your first impressions when this part came up?
Absolutely! Well all the things you said, there is nothing else like it around at the moment. It’s a fantastic topic to discuss and it’s young and edgy. It’s a phenomenal topic to investigate and nobody is doing it which is interesting; when you stop and think about it you wonder ‘why hasn’t anybody done a play like this?’ It hit me between the eyes straight away and I knew I wanted to be part of it.
You’re working alongside an amazing cast!
Tanya Franks is a great friend of mine, we did Sherlock at the West Yorkshire Playhouse and have a very close working relationship. There’s also Charlie (Brooks), Ralph (Aiken) and Ian (Brown) the director so it was a really exciting package. It was a bit of a no-brainer [laughs]!
Jason & Charlie Brooks in Contact.com
Tell me about these characters – are they written with emotional depth?
Yes, I think it’s a great premise – a professional couple put out an advert on the internet looking for sex with a younger couple. The audience are asked to do many things on many levels in terms of looking at the ramifications of how it happens, when it happens and the consequences of what happens to these very differing characters. It investigates all of that and it’s gripping, it’s funny and it really catches the imagination. That was another added incentive for me to do it because it’s an exciting topic – you want to know what happens to these people and how they deal with it! Slowly, like the layers of an onion, it gets peeled off and you watch what happens.
I love that you’re going from something so iconic like Agatha Christie’s Black Coffee into something completely brand new. The two shows couldn’t be more different! What is it like to take on a brand new play? Do you enjoy the creative process of tweaking and changing things as you go?
Yes, I absolutely love taking on new plays. Playing Hercule Poirot, a small little Belgian detective with a moustache and a funny walk, couldn’t be more different to playing Matthew in Contact.com. Poirot was such a massive character to play and a lot of people ask me if I was worried about it, but of course I wasn’t! It was an absolute dream to play and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Inevitably there were challenges, but as you quite rightly pointed out when you are doing a new play it’s exciting because it has never been done before. With the internet being so prolific, Contact.com is relevant and pertinent. Of course we have tweaked the script, Michael (Kingsbury) the writer was there for rehearsals and it was a joy to go through the creative process with the writer on hand. It’s an incredibly intense rollercoaster for these four people!
|Tanya Franks & Jason in rehearsals|
You have performed in theatres of all shapes and sizes, how does the Park compare?
I love it! It doesn’t matter what size the theatre is; I played the Barbican when I was with the RSC and have performed in all different theatres around the country when touring. There is something special about doing theatre – having the audience there and having that interaction. There is also something special about doing something intimate because it allows you to use different theatrical muscles. It’s exciting and enjoyable; I’ve always embraced the smaller venues. I think there’s a particular type of person who comes to those as well, they’re buying into the journey – they’re going on it with you. I really enjoy it.
I think a play like Contact.com works particularly well when the audience are so close to the action – there is no escaping!
It’s a really good venue to have the show on at. It’s an up and coming theatre which does really interesting, edgy work that some other theatres might shy away from. It has created a buzz, and in London that’s never a bad thing.
Interviewed by Andrew Tomlins (Editor)
Please visit www.parktheatre.co.uk for further information and tickets.