Let's Talk About Philip, credit Rebecca Pitt (1).jpg

Edinburgh Fringe 2022 
Interview

Helen Wood
Let's Talk About Philip
VENUE 33 - 
Pleasance Courtyard - Beneath
Aug 3-14, 16-28, 16:00 /  Tickets
July 15, 2022

When 30 years of family silence is broken, Helen begins a quest to discover the hidden story behind her brother's suicide. As surprising details are uncovered, Helen grapples with loyalty, long-held beliefs and how much we ever really know about those we love.

 

Hi Helen thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been keeping during these strange times?

 

I’ve been good because I started to write Let’s Talk About Philip in autumn 2020 and having it as a creative project kept me focused right through the last two years.

 

How does it feel to heading to Edinburgh Fringe after everything that has happened?

 

Having been to Edinburgh Fringe for eight years in a row I was very sad not to be there for the last two. I feel like I’m heading home!

 

Will there be any nerves ahead of your first show at The Pleasance?

 

Hopefully the adrenaline pumping through me will give me energy rather than anxiety. I love that moment just before you step onto the stage.

 

Have you got your The Royal Mile sales patter down for August or are you still tweaking it?

 

To some people I might say, “Do you like true-crime, police procedurals and courtroom dramas?” To others it might be, “Do you like stories about real people full of honesty, raw emotion and humour?”

 

Can you tell me a little bit about Let’s Talk About Philip, what can we expect?

 

The show follows my detective-like investigation into my brother’s suicide. Just after my mother’s funeral my father said to me, “let’s talk about Philip.” We hadn’t talked about him for over thirty years. With the silence broken and having learnt surprising new facts, I embark on a quest to unravel the circumstances leading up to Philip’s death. The journey takes me back to scenes from my childhood, exotic Asian locations, a coroner’s court and the place where my brother died.

 

When you preview a show how much does it change before a major festival and do you still allow yourself some flexibility once a run has started?

 

There’ll definitely be some flexibility. We’re previewing on a large proscenium stage and our space at Pleasance Courtyard is thrust, smaller and more intimate, so we’ll have to adapt accordingly.

 

Have you always had a passion for theatre?

 

I’ve had a passion for theatre since I was very young. Over the years I’ve acted, directed and produced and besides writing shows I’ve devised and improvised. Also I co-founded Freshwater, a successful drama-in-education company, 26 years ago and I’ve been involved ever since in various roles.

Helen Woods & Gregor Hunt, Let's Talk About Philip, Credit Gavin Crilly (1).jpg

"...now I realise that you can explore a painful subject, like suicide, and create something full of humour, lightness and optimism."

What has been the most interesting thing you have discovered about yourself and the theatre you want to create after making this show?

 

At first, when I began to write Let’s Talk About Philip, there was some reluctance. “I create solo comedy shows,” I said to myself. But now I realise that you can explore a painful subject, like suicide, and create something full of humour, lightness and optimism. I’d love to do more work like this.

 

What one word best describes your show?

 

Talk!

 

In-between your show how do hope to get a chance to see other shows at the fringe?

 

My show ends at 5pm, which means there’s a whole evening ahead for me to see shows. I like the fact that the shows at the Traverse are on at different times, so I can nearly always get to my preferred ones.

 

What has been the best piece of advice you have been give?

 

In autumn 2020, while I was on a writing course, the theatre-maker, Tim Crouch, said to me, “this is your story, this is your play.” It was the encouragement I needed.

 

Do you have a favourite theatre quote?

 

Judy Dench said, “never fall out of love with life!”

 

And finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Let’s Talk About Philip?

 

I hope that they’ll have enjoyed sharing the journey that I’ve been on and be moved by it, and that maybe they’ll question whether they have something they find difficult to talk about. If it means that people start talking more about suicide, mental health issues, or anything that is usually kept silent, then I will feel the play has been a success.