Ahead of LUTG’s production of Incognito, SCAN spoke to director Luke McDonnell, and one of the lead actors, Aurelia Gage, about their hopes for the upcoming show.
What is the premise of Incognito?
LM: Incognito tells three separate storylines, which are all interwoven, across three different time periods. All stories concern the brain and neuropsychology, two of which are loosely based on real events, and one of which is completely fictional.
Why were you so attracted to this story?
LM: I saw the play a couple of times in London, and loved it then. It’s one of the few plays I know of which is so heavy on story, because there’s three separate stories are all strong enough individually, but when you put them together and see how the interweave it becomes something much more evocative for an audience I think.
AG: It’s a very intricate story and the individual stories are all very well-developed, they just happen to be interlinked. It’s really interesting playing a lot of characters, because it’s very challenging having to make them all distinct, but also they’re all kind of connected in some way, whether it be emotionally or through the story. So it’s interesting figuring out those distinctions but also those connections.
LM: It’s one of those plays where it takes a day or two to go, “oh, that meant that, and that works like that!” So it stays with you for a long time.
How have you gone about creating the look of Incognito?
LM: I kept a lot of it from the original production, except ours is a little more abstract with more lighting effects and so on. The look of it is very simplistic, there are no props, there’s no set, it’s very minimal so that you focus on the stories. There’s never the ‘lie’ of these actors being other people, it’s very clear that they’re actors taking on different personalities; I think the most is six characters played by one person.
It is difficult to perform multiple roles and have to switch between them?
AG: The only difficult thing really is the technical side of it; your physicality and your accents. But because the story is very well put together, it doesn’t make your mind jump from story to story, it all feels very natural. The only challenge is getting all the transitions between characters to look like they weave as well as the narrative does.
Do you try to emulate what made Incognito successful, or put your own spin on it?
LM: A bit of both in a way. Part of the process is figuring out what works and using that as a template and going “that works, why does that work, can I make something else work in the same way”. You change it slightly to put your own spin on it, but the core is still the same.
AG: I’ve not seen it before; I think that’s a massive advantage, because I tend to latch on to characters that I’ve seen and perform exactly like them, because I can’t see it any other way in my head. If I’ve seen a character done before, that character then belongs to that actor. With this, it feels like these characters are more an extension of myself and playing on my own core personality.
How does this compare to shows you’ve done previously with LUTG?
AG: Every show you do has a different feel to it, this is a very intimate show because it’s a very small cast, a very small crew, which fits with the very technical way of working. You’ve got to be very precise with everything, so I’d say it’s a bit more intense than other LUTG shows I’ve been a part of, but that’s what the script and the production calls for.
LM: This is third time I’ve directed with LUTG, and I think it’s definitely the hardest show I’ve directed, but also the most fun. And it’s always different directing from when I’m acting. When you’re acting, there’s so much less pressure on you, because you can just do what you’re told, whereas when you’re directing you’ve got no-one telling you what to do.
AG: It’s like being the host of a really stressful party, you want everyone to have a good time so you’re constantly refilling drinks.
LM: That’s a really good metaphor. A stressful surprise party where no-one knows what’s going to happen, and if it goes shit it’s your fault!
If anyone’s still on the fence, how would you sell it to them?
LM: I would say it’s probably unlike any play you will have known or seen before in the way that the stories are told. Nick Payne [who scripted the original] is an incredible writer, he’s a genius with what he can do. Plus we’re the first amateur production of the show ever, it only came off Broadway a couple of months ago. And the cast and crew, the cast especially, are incredible.
Incognito is showing at The Storey, 7:30pm on Friday and 2:30pm & 7:30pm on Saturday Week 18 (10th and 11th March). Find out more at www.facebook.com/lutgincognito/