One of our favourite shows from 2018, the revival of Kevin Elyot’s Coming Clean at the King’s Head Theatre, is back for 2019 for a month in the West End at Trafalgar Studios. Dave Cross had a catch up with the cast to find out more.
Hi guys, can you please describe your characters in Coming Clean?
Elliot Hadley: I play two characters in Coming Clean: William and Jürgen. William is Tony’s best friend and agony aunt. He’s a whirlwind of exuberance and fun and a permanent fixture in the couple’s flat (whether they want him there or not!). On the surface he’s flamboyant, flirty and filthy, but underneath it all he’s just as damaged as everyone else. Jürgen is a dark, leathery, German mystery – and I quite like him that way. It’s up to the audience to make up their minds about him.
Tom Lambert: I play Robert, who is just out of drama school, grafting his way as an actor. He does jobs on the side to make money, and ends up being Tony and Greg’s cleaner. Robert is a sensitive but generally positive-minded and easy-going character, who is very educated and cultured. He has a strong sense of identity but often pins it to senior role models.
Lee Knight: Tony is a gay 33 year old aspiring writer living in Kentish Town with his boyfriend of five years. He is at a crucial point in his life where he is questioning his life’s fulfilment and what will ultimately make him complete. At a time where gay men only dreamed of a domestic lifestyle, not long after being gay was decriminalised, as many gay men did and do after growing up in the closet, Tony is trying to navigate the realm of love, domesticity, relationships, in search of what will make him truly happy.
Stanton Plummer-Cambridge: Greg is hard working, no nonsense, goal oriented, disciplined, honest, and straightforward. He’s a realist, and very practical.
The play is set in 1982, can you tell us some ways in which that is portrayed?
Elliot: Our designer, Amanda Mascarenhas, and the team have worked tirelessly to make Tony and Greg’s Kentish Town flat as authentically 80’s as possible; from the crockery to the cigarette cases. It even smells like it!
Stanton: The music that the character’s listen to, the cultural references, everything helps anchor you in that time period. That, and also Elliot’s fantastic moustache.
Lee: From hair gel, to a vinyl player, an old telephone, the costumes, the music – it’s pretty much like walking back in time through the closet doors of a gay man’s flat in the 1980s.
Tom: There is also something distinctly ‘1982’ in the attitudes and experiences the characters share in the play. Coming Clean gives a snapshot of the debates happening before the AIDS epidemic. So it is firmly placed in 1982, but has astonishing relevance for current society.
What would you want people to take away from Coming Clean?
Stanton: I’d want people to walk away thinking about their own relationships, about the way they communicate with one another, and with an increased sense of intellectual rigour.
Tom: I hope the audience take away a sense of fun: there are lots of laughs in Kevin Elyot’s brilliant writing amidst the drama.