This week, Impact Arts speaks to Nikki Hill, writer and director, and Harriet Lowe, co-producer, of the New Theatre’s latest in-house production of ‘Let’s Just Pretend’
Give us a brief summary of ‘Let’s Just Pretend’- what’s the plot?
Nikki: We meet Mark and Caroline when they are 16, under their tree in the park, and we watch their relationship blossom and grow. We see this romanticised summer haze of teenage love. Then, Act 2, we see the reality of when they are 28, they’re married and the things they pretended about their life, what they imagined and dreamt about, haven’t come true. Caroline has very much grown into herself. She has matured and developed as a woman whilst Mark is very much the same. There is this constant struggle as to whether he loves her anymore or is just in love with the idea he created of them.
What inspired you to write the play?
Nikki: It started from a short story I wrote in the summer and then I was chatting to one of the co-producers, Kati, about it and decided to make it into a play. I was already thinking about how, when you’re taking a big step in your life, whether you’re coming to university or leaving it, you look back and realise truths about yourself that you might not have realised if you didn’t have to make this big step, and how that influences the way you look at yourself, and the way that you look at the relationships around you.
What difficulties did you face getting your actors to present the same characters but at the age of 16 and then at 28?
Nikki: We did have some difficulties, especially with physicality. With Mark it was slightly easier because he doesn’t really change so his development is more in his tone of voice. So when he is 28 he is slightly more defeated, he gets angrier quicker, he is snappier, whereas Caroline goes through quite an interesting change. When she is 16 she is quite fidgety, she has the sense that she has a lot of limbs that she is not sure what to do about, she moves around a lot on the floor, she sits awkwardly. Then, when she is 28 she is much surer of herself, she’s grown up, is stiller and calmer, she moves with more purpose.
Harriet: When Caroline is younger she is in a process of trying to get somewhere. She is in that weird transition phase where she knows what she wants but can’t achieve it yet. So, in that sense, she is quite unsure and anxious at times. Then when you see the 28 year old Caroline she is so much more assertive, self-assured, confident, she is happy in what she is doing because she knows that is always what she’s wanted to do.
What message do you want people to take away from ‘Let’s Just Pretend’?
Nikki: I wrote it mainly out of curiosity because I always found, often, when somebody says “We used to date” you can’t see how two people who are so different would ever end up together. So I found it interesting to go from the beginning and see how, if you’re going to maintain a long-lasting relationship, you have to adapt together and how, sometimes, being in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you. Also that the memories that you have of the past and the history you have with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you have a future with them. But, it ends ambiguously.
Harriet: I think that’s quite nice. People take away what they want from the relationship because it ends in an ambiguous way.
Nikki: It ends with an ‘is this it?’ and it’s an ‘I don’t know, maybe it is maybe it’s not’. Life and love isn’t easy and that it shouldn’t be.
How would you sum up the play in 2 words?
Both: Enchanting and relatable
Let’s Just Pretend opens at Nottingham New Theatre on Wednesday 4th March and runs until Saturday 7th March. For more information see here.