Throwing out the provocative question of, “when is your best friend not your best friend?”, Straight is a play that deals with the intriguing topic of friendship and age. Following a very successful run at the Studio in Sheffield, Straight now arrives at the Bush Theatre, London from 28 November until 22 December. Adapted from the American motion feature Humpday, Straight was written by playwright DC Moore, whose other plays include Alaska (Royal Court), The Empire (Royal Court and Drum Theatre, Plymouth – TMA Award for Best Touring Production), Honest (Royal & Derngate, Northampton and Edinburgh Festival), Town (Royal & Derngate, Northampton) and The Swan. Aesthetica speaks to DC Moore about his approach to Straight and how the play pans out.
A: You changed the name of the play from the original name of the motion feature, Humpday, to Straight, why was that?
DCM: Mainly because Humpday, as an American phrase to mean Wednesday/the middle of the week (a proverbial hill to get over), isn’t used like that in the UK (at least not widely). We then wanted a title that hinted at what the play was about but remained a bit oblique. Hence: Straight.
A: Without giving too much away, can you please explain the basic premise of the play?
DCM: It’s about the effect that the arrival of an old friend has on a very settled marriage. Lewis and Morgan are a pretty normal coupled ekeing out their life together in slightly reduced circumstances, when Waldorf arrives and takes a hefty great dump on it all. I was told recently that all stories can be basically trimmed down to: a stranger arrives. In this case it’s Waldorf and he shakes everything up for Lewis and Morgan by bringing his much more hectic, frenetic life into theirs. I don’t want to say too much more, to be honest, as I’d rather the audience discover it all for themselves.
A: Straight is about a friendship, is this a subject that particularly interested you?
DCM: Yeah, I’m 32 and it’s really interesting tracking how friendship changes as you get older. Basically, the stakes get incrementally higher because you’re slowly getting nearer to death. As such, the decisions you make gradually become more important. So, whilst most 21 year-olds aren’t considering their mortality too much (apart from Goths) by the time you get to 30 and over, it starts becoming a bit more of a marker. As such, when you meet people from Uni after years without seeing them, it’s fascinating to see how that process has changed them, or not. Some people try and ignore it and are still going out as much as they can, some people are already acting like they’re 50 and others get a bit overwhelmed by it. In that context, I think true friendship becomes a beacon to help you navigate the most difficult parts of getting older.
A: You have adapted one of your plays, The Empire, for the radio- how did you set about this process?
DCM: It was very pleasant and simple, actually. The play was about 90 minutes long and it needed to be cut down to 60 minutes, as well as changing the format slightly so that it worked purely as something to listen to (rather than look at and listen to). My favourite part of it was going to the studio in Birmingham. When you’re inside the actual recording part of the building, everything is dampened (with the equivalent of very hi-tech egg boxes) and it’s quite sci-fi in a way. There’s also a purity to radio, just the human voice and the odd sound effect, that’s quite refreshing and makes you think about writing very differently.
A: Can you tell us more about the cast you are working with and their contribution to the project?
DCM: They’re fantastic. With the director, Richard Wilson, they’ve made the rehearsal process very open and two-way. I like to make sure dialogue is actor-friendly and the cast have been very good at telling me about what works and what doesn’t, which I’ve then changed accordingly. They’ve also really thrown themselves into the roles and it’s a pleasure to watch actors do that.
Straight, 28 November – 22 December, Bush Theatre, 7 Uxbridge Road London, Greater London, W12 8LJ.