Glitzy platform boots? Check! Gracious amounts of lipstick? Check! Questionable fake beards? Check! Now all that’s left is to experience this Abba-tastic comedy… but before you do, you can catch-up with actor and writer Ian Hallard, director Mark Gatiss and the rest of The Way Old Friends Do company during their cast photoshoot, or let Ian and Mark guide you through their creative process below. Waterloo’d of fun!Book Now
Get to know Ian Hallard and Mark Gatiss
Tell us about the inspiration behind The Way Old Friends Do.
Ian: It’s very easy to pitch in one line: two old school friends form the world’s first drag ABBA tribute band. It does exactly what it says on the tin. When I told my friends, they got excited because at first they thought I was actually setting up a drag ABBA tribute band. Then, once I’d had the idea, I did extensive googling to see if such a thing already existed, and as far as I’m aware, it doesn’t. Who knows? It might give somebody else the idea now!
This is the first play you wrote, Ian. Had you thought about writing before this?
Ian: I’d always thought it seemed to require a colossal amount of confidence, if not arrogance, to say, “There hasn’t been a play that’s sufficiently tackled this one particular topic, and I am uniquely placed to be the person to write this play.” Then I just got over myself, and once I’d decided to try and write something, it was motivated by what I myself wanted to be in. I thought, “Well, if it’s the first thing I write, I’m going to write a part for myself. What would I be most excited about if my agent rang tomorrow with a script for me to read? It would be an offer to play Agnetha from ABBA.” Then I just had to reverse engineer things and construct a storyline in which that could happen.
What’s it like working professionally with your husband?
Mark: It’s very much about having a shorthand. We’ve had two rehearsed readings of the play so far, and as the scene is unfolding, I know what Ian will be wanting to say to me. That’s very helpful. Also, we can compare notes at the end of the evening without having to organise a special notes session!
Ian: We’ve done it quite a few times before, but this is going to be a slightly different dynamic because we haven’t worked together as director and writer, and certainly not on stage, so watch this space. But given past experiences, I have no cause for concern!
Mark: These things aren’t guaranteed to work, of course. A lot of couples never work together because they’d rather leave it at the door, but so far, so good!
Ian: Look at ABBA. Romantic relationships kick-started the band, although admittedly it did all go awry subsequently.
Mark: Yes, we’d better not follow Abba down that line!
Ian: Ah well, if we do, we’ll just end up getting back together in forty years’ time.
What do you hope that audiences take away from the show?
Ian: Just a great night out. If you love ABBA, there are plenty of little Easter eggs and moments for you. But if you don’t know anything about them, or don’t even like them – yes, there are such people out there! – it speaks about being a fan. We’re all a fan of something. That level of devotion and ownership is universal. But I also think the six characters are fun people that audiences will enjoys spending time with. I hope people will laugh and be touched – and then rebook!
Mark: It’s truthful, it’s moving and it’s joyous – that’s what I like to see in a play. Like ABBA, it’s bittersweet, but ultimately very, very upbeat, and a joy to be around.
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