Coming soon to the Connaught Theatre is Conn Artists hauntingly beautiful play, Mary Rose. We spoke to Actress Jenny Rowe, who portrays Mrs Morland in this mystical production to find out more about her role in the play.
What’s it like to be a part of Conn Artists?
As a new performer to the group, it felt very easy to slot in, by which I mean it’s clear everyone’s passionate about getting the work done and producing something great, but also that there’s a strong sense of care and empathy for one another. Also, I’ve had a laugh with everyone so far and that’s one of the most important things to me as a performer – to feel relaxed when we’re working hard!
Can you tell us more about your role in Mary Rose?
I play Mrs Morland – the mother of Mary Rose. She’s a Victorian lady and very delightful. She has a great relationship with her husband, James, and they clearly love each other a lot, but there’s no mistaking that she’s the captain of the Morland’s ship, albeit steering with a subtle touch. She’s intuitive, passionate and desperate to protect her daughter.
I also play Mrs Otery, the housekeeper who, together with the character, Harry, sort of book-ends the play. To me, she’s a woman who’s trying to hold reality together, as if, to admit that there’s anything wrong would crack the fabric of the world somehow. She’s no nonsense, and feisty when she wants to be but there’s more to her than meets the eye.
What do you find most interesting about your character? How do they work within the dynamic of the show?
For Mrs Morland, it’s the balancing of everyday life and keeping a happy house, with the ever-present Mary Rose who – even when she’s not there – is all-pervasive. Incidentally, I would say the house is very much a character in this play too; I think Barrie makes that very clear in the stage directions.
How have you found bringing your character to life?
Rehearsals haven’t started yet, but I’ve chatted with Nick, the director, about Mrs Morland and currently, I’m watching a few shows set around the time, just to remind myself of the era and sensibilities – and making notes, lots of notes. But, the characters are very much there in the script so it’s in the reading and re-reading that I keep finding more and more clues to why the characters do what they do. I expect costume will help too, so I’m excited to see what Laura (Designer) comes up with.
What do you think J.M. Barrie might make of the play?
I think he’d be chuffed to bits that we still wanted to perform his work so long after his death, but maybe he’d be a little sad that it’s still so relevant to a 21st century audience. But, then, humanity is all about love and loss, it’s just in Barrie’s day it was the Great War and now it’s Covid-19, people being displaced from their countries, so many things.
What do you hope audiences might take home after watching Mary Rose?
I think it’s an incredibly moving play. The Morlands are so easy and happy in each other’s company and I really think it’s very funny in places. I hope audiences will be thinking about it long after we’ve moved on to the next venue.