Frau Welt is a new play by Peter Clements and Oliver Dawe. It tells the life story of Frau Welt, a grand dame of the theatre who has many dark secrets and hidden corners to her life, and is played by Peter. Dave Cross had a chat with creator Peter about this fascinating and very funny play.
Hi Peter, how would you describe Frau Welt?
Frau Welt is a living legend; a self-styled wild child of the theatre known for being a bit of a cantankerous old bag. She can be highly elegant and also very dangerous, a sort of cocktail of delusions of grandeur mixed with wit and charm. This is the final show of her life before her retirement from performance.
You have described her as a shapeshifter, can you explain that?
I can’t really say too much, we don’t want spoilers, but in her life she has taken on many different things from many characters. All in her own unique way, of course.
Where did the inspiration to create her come from?
Frau is a real mixture of people I know and people I’ve met. She was born at a time when I was very frustrated with being an actor. I was tired of rejection and of being out of work and I’d always wanted to create my own work. I was on a trip to Vienna and I ended up at what I can only call the dinner party from hell with these marvellous old ladies who got very drunk on wine and then unleashed their questionable views on life. There was something so irresistible and seductive about these elegant but dangerous older ladies, so I fused them with all my own toxicity and upset about the theatre and poured it all into this clown-like caricature, which became Frau Welt. Then myself and Oliver have just added more and more to her over the past couple of years.
How would you describe the show?
The show itself is like a love letter to the theatre, but one sealed with blood. It’s got everything you could want in a show: big musical numbers that pay homage to traditional theatre but also to cabaret and drag, and through this Frau takes us through the key moments in her life.
Would you like to unleash Frau on the real world of gay cabaret venues?
Oh yes, definitely. I have taken her to cabaret venues to perform and I’d love to see her perform at somewhere like the RVT. She’d be perfect for Duckie!