Anita Loos’ adaptation of Colette’s Parisian coming-of-age story hasn’t seen light of day in over half a century, but directorMark Giesser,is bringing it to the Tabard Theatre. Paul Couch caught up with Gigi, also known as actress Daisy May.
Gigi’s not been done for 60 years. Do you think it’s still relevant for modern audiences?
It’s interesting. Essentially it’s about grooming this 16-year-old girl to be a mistress for wealthy men. I guess the sad thing is there are still families today who are forced into situations where young, teenage girls are in the same position. In that respect, sadly it is still relevant, We’re not shying away from those darker tones to the story.
So how are rehearsals going?
Rehearsals are going really well! It’s the first time I’ve worked with Mark [Giesser]. He’s very generous in terms of directing; he guides us in a really gentle, lovely way. It’s super-nurturing – it’s a safe place to make mistakes.
You’re approaching this as a woman from the 21st Century playing a girl from the turn of the 20th Century. How do you approach a character who lived at a certain age, in a certain culture with those kinds of limitations?
I think with Gigi it helps that she’s a massive tomboy; she doesn’t conform to anything, including her family’s rules and so, in that respect, I feel I’ve been massively lucky in terms of her physicality and her language and her jokes are quite modern in fact. It’s the world around her that’s of a different time. It’s quite nice to have that contrast.
What about the setting and the lush costumes?
We’ve got an amazing costume designer, Giulia Scrimieri, and a designer, Tim Goodchild. We’ve not yet had a chance to “play” in the costumes and, as I say, Gigi’s not very ladylike at all and so wearing a corset is definitely going to change things!
Gigi has a cast of seven. How’re you getting on with them?
It’s a really lovely dynamic. I’m surrounded by talent – I need to work harder! Everyone’s just putting everything into it, especially Gigi’s grandmother [Prue Clarke] and great aunt [Pamela Miles]. It’s a dream job, a lot of fun.
You’ve worked across film, TV and stage, which do you prefer?
I think… I love the stage. I worked at the Bristol Tobacco Factory and it was a six-month job. You’re able to play around and explore loads of different options working on characters and it changes every day. The audience changes every day and you have to change with them so, in that respect, I think most actors will say it’s kind of safer. With TV, it’s kind of jumbled up; you might do the last scene of the episode at the very beginning so, for me, it just takes a lot more planning so I have to be very clear about where I am. I just hope I will continue and do all three!
So what’s next for you after Gigi?
At the moment, I do a lot of voice-overs. I’m the voice of Capital Radio, which I’m doing twice a week in the mornings, which is fun. But away from voice-over world, I’m developing a comedy series with my amazing writer friend, Eleri Morgan, and it’s about a failing girl-band in London and I play the rapper. We’ve got a first read-through coming up and that’s pretty exciting!
Runs until27 November 2015 | Image: Richard Davenport