Fiona MacLeod at La Mama

Almost with You is a story of love and loss from Elizabeth Coleman (Secret Bridesmaids’ Business) from The Little Theatre Company. With an 80s soundtrack including The Church, The Jam and Simple Minds, it opens at La Mama on 4 July.

Director Kaarin Fairfax (Good People) says, “It’s not often I read a play and feel so moved by the characters and the journey on which they travel… Almost With You is for me a highly creative and sensitive piece of writing that will join ranks with Elizabeth’s earlier successes to become part of Australian theatre history and a great classic work.”

Actor Fiona Macleod (Construction of the Human Heart, The City) talks to Anne-Marie Peard about working at La Mama and performing Almost with You.

What three words best describe your show?
Intriguing, funny, affecting.

Do you remember the first show you saw at La Mama?
I don’t remember the show, but I remember the experience.  Sitting there, amongst the brick and near the open fire, thinking “what have I been DOING all these years??”

What is one of your favourite shows you’ve seen at La Mama?
Angus Cerini’s play Save for Crying.

What La Mama show do you wish you’d seen?
So, so many…

What do you love about working at La Mama?
The cosiness of the entire space – the theatre, courtyard, upstairs, the support of the team there, the sense of being a part of Melbourne’s theatre history, the sense of community and integrity that permeates the brick walls.

What do you love most about this show? 
The rollercoaster journey that my character goes on – I won’t have a second to stop and think.  The story propels me forward, with force.  And the fact that it’s funny, as well as heart-wrenchingly sad.

Where is the best coffee in Carlton?
I’d hate to play favourites, but Brunetti’s is just so close.

Who would you love to see in your audience one night?
My extended family who live in Scotland.

Is there anyone you don’t want to see in the audience?
Yes, but I’m not going to say as it would spark controversy.

What do you like to do after a performance?
Drink red wine and talk to friends.

What was your first time on a stage?
It was either the school play in first form where I played Jane in Pride and Prejudice, or in a church hall doing a dance to “Downunder’ by  Men at Work.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I try not to have too many as I think they can become compulsive, but I do like to do a physical and vocal warm up – sing perhaps, breathe, and do something to connect with my co-actors.

What’s some great theatre advice you’ve used? 
Trust yourself, don’t forget to listen, and a new one from my director on this show, Kaarin Fairfax – get the thought right and the behaviour will look after itself.

What punishment do you think is fit for audience members who don’t turn their phones off during performances?
The psychic wrath of the other audience members is usually punishment enough, but perhaps they should be made to buy the cast a drink after the show?

What’s your favourite gelati flavour?
Probably lemon.

What role/character do you really want to play one day?
I’m not sure but I’ll know it when it comes.

Matinees: love or loathe?
Loathe, generally.

Do you read reviews?
I do as curiosity gets the better of me, but I think if you are going to believe the good, you have to believe the bad, or take all of them with a grain of salt.  It’s probably best not to though, until after the season.

Do you know of any secret parking spots near the theatres (although it’s such a short walk from the Melbourne uni tram stop on Swanston Street, so driving isn’t necessary)? 
I always have luck in the four hour ones down on that square (don’t know the address sorry – McCarthur Place?)

What’s the best book you’ve read recently? 
The Privileges by Jonathan Dee

What question do you wish I’d asked?
What are your hopes for this show?

How would you answer it?
That it affects people, and that it has many more lives.

More info and bookings.

Anne-Marie Peard

Anne-Marie spent many years working with amazing artists at arts festivals all over Australia. She's been a freelance arts writer for the last 10 years and teaches journalism at Monash University.

Anne-Marie Peard

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