Hysteria at The Alban Arena as farce comes to St Albans
- Credit: Archant
A new touring production of Olivier Award-winning comedy Hysteria is coming to St Albans. We caught up with Summer Strallen, one of the stars of the farce.
Hysteria by Terry Johnson can be seen at The Alban Arena on Tuesday, February 14, at 7.30pm, and Wednesday, February 15 at 2.30pm.
Directed by Michael Cabot, Hysteria has been described by Time Out as “a custard pie of comic brilliance”.
It’s 1938 London, and Sigmund Freud has fled Nazi-occupied Austria and settled in leafy Swiss Cottage.
The ageing Freud intends to spend his last days in peaceful contemplation but, when Salvador Dali pays a visit and discovers a naked woman in the closet, eye-popping mayhem ensues.
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Acknowledged as a modern classic, Terry Johnson’s hilarious farce explores the fallout when two of the 20th century’s most brilliant and original minds collide.
It won the Laurence Olivier Award for ‘Best Comedy’ in 1994.
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In the UK tour coming to St Albans, Ged McKenna plays Sigmund Freud opposite John Dorney as Salvador Dali and Moray Treadwell as Dr Abraham Yahuda.
Summer Strallen, meanwhile, plays Jessica in the London Classic Theatre production.
Summer has had a varied and successful career in theatre and television, with appearances in Hollyoaks and Land Girls as well as West End appearances in Love Never Dies, Top Hat and The Drowsy Chaperone. She has been nominated for four Laurence Olivier Awards.
We caught up with Summer for a quick Q&A ahead of the play arriving in St Albans.
• What drew you to the character of Jessica?
Summer Strallen: In my career I am always looking for a challenge and what Jessica goes through is certainly that.
Without giving too much away, the issues she brings to Sigmund Freud are extremely complex and confusing, so having the opportunity to try to unravel them and unpick the labyrinth of her mind has been extremely satisfying.
• Where do you start when first approaching a new role?
Summer Strallen: Well…that depends on the role. I try to read the play as many times as possible before rehearsals start and learn as much as I can, but I come from a movement background so find it easier to learn lines when I am up on my feet in the rehearsal space.
Once I have a ‘mind map’ of where I am on the stage while I’m saying something it really helps solidify the words in my brain.
• Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Summer Strallen: I suffer with terrible nerves at the beginning of a run but, after a while, that subsides and I can enjoy it more.
To help at the start of a run I do EFT which is Emotional Freedom Training.
It helps me get rid of any nerves or negative thoughts that might fly around my head.
The worst critics I’ve ever come across have been my own thoughts so I have to keep them in check.
I also regularly meditate, say prayers, make wishes and do spells… whatever I feel may help me quiet down the voices in my head.
Most people have them, I’m just willing to admit it.
• What do you have in your dressing room?
Summer Strallen: If I can, I usually have my two dogs, Bam Bam and Pebbles, with me but if the theatre doesn’t allow them in, I will always try to have my Neal’s Yard Essential oils diffuser with a collection of oils next to it.
Also, my Dr Nelson’s steamer in case my voice is tired. I’ll also have a towel, flannel, tissues and any make-up I might need. And a mug!
Moray Treadwell (Dr Abraham Yahuda) has already assigned himself as tea monitor for the interval.
• What’s the first thing you do when you get offstage at the end of a show?
Summer Strallen: Take my hair out if it is up, if not, probably just wash my face and get ready to go home.
• What are your memories of the very first time you stepped in a stage?
Summer Strallen: I don’t really have a memory of first stepping on a stage because I was so young when I started performing and before I could really take stock it had already just become second nature to be on one.
I’m sure there is some footage of it floating around somewhere.
• What have been your career highlights?
Summer Strallen: Career highlight for sure is getting to kiss Ewan McGregor for eight months when I was his dance partner in The Donmar production of Guys and Dolls.
I’m sure me kissing him is top of his list, too!
• What advice would you give any young women starting out in this very overcrowded profession today?
Summer Strallen: Listen to your positive self, whether that be in meditation, exercise, prayer, cycling whatever way you find it easy to connect to and hear your voice within.
In this increasingly fast-paced world, take the time to just be in silence with yourself so you can really hear your true heart’s desire.”
• Tickets for Hysteria at The Alban Arena cost £18, with concessions £2 off.
Call the box office on 01727 844488 or book online at The Alban Arena website at www.alban-arena.co.uk