Simon Scardifield is playing Ben in Joe White's new play Mayfly. We asked him a few questions about the play, about acting and the theatre.
What was the first show you saw that had a big impact on you?
A mad Catalan show by a company called Els Comediants when I was in Edinburgh in ’89. I was there with Jez Butterworth’s first play, a version of a recipe book using only the words from the recipe book. We were a bunch of not earnest but trying-hard students, and those Catalans assailed us in an open-air show with such an open-hearted display of abandon that we all wanted to throw our clothes off.
If you hadn’t been an actor what would you have been?
A teacher. Not a good one.
Can you tell us a bit about your character in Mayfly?
Ben threw himself into life as a young man with a lot of good faith, optimism and energy, and things have not worked out since then. I think he feels poorly rewarded for his efforts, and the play catches him at a moment when he is trying to do something about it.
What was it about Mayfly that made you want to be in the play?
I had met both Guy, the director, and Joe before the audition, but when I came into the room I greeted them both as strangers. Didn’t remember either of them. I took the part to make up for it.
Also, I really like the writing. And I haven’t done a new play for years, I tend to do more classical stuff.
What's your favourite line from the play?
It’s been cut.
Mayfly is set in rural Shropshire. What relationship do you have to the countryside?
I grew up there, and being there, I’ve realised after 25 years living in London, makes me really happy.
When was the last time you climbed a tree?
I climb a tree whenever I get near one with a branch less than 6ft from the ground.
What does acting in a small in the round theatre like the Orange Tree demand of you as an actor?
A very enjoyable level of immersion in the play. We have to properly talk to each other, which is all actors ever say really, but you can get away with a lot in a bigger space.
What have you been reading or watching recently that you’d recommend?
The Young Pope – The always interesting Paolo Sorrentino bends Jude Law into some very interesting shapes.
John Aubrey, My Own Life – Ruth Scurr’s memoir/biog of a beautiful 17th Century mind. Wonderfully intimate.
Carson McCullers, The Member of the Wedding – I started and had to stop after 3 pages because of work. But I already know I’m going to like it – a lot.
Anything by Annie Baker – I did a reading at the NT Studio of a new play by her and went out to buy everything she’s written. Can’t wait to see something.
Mayfly is playing 19 April – 26 May 2018