Pearl Mackie leaps from Doctor Who to Harold Pinter

From BBC - September 15, 2017

For her first role since travelling through time and space in Doctor Who, actress Pearl Mackie will jump back 60 years to appear in Harold Pinter's 1957 play The Birthday Party.

Mackie currently plays Doctor Who's companion Bill Potts, but will leave the show after the Christmas special.

Then, from January, she will be seen as Lulu in The Birthday Party.

She will appear alongside Toby Jones, Zoe Wanamaker and Stephen Mangan at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London.

The play will be directed by Ian Rickson and will run until April.

In an interview with BBC News, Mackie says she's been struggling with how the character - and the things she goes through - will fit with her own feminist ideals.

She also talks about her departure from Doctor Who, says she wants to tell more political stories in the future - and says Capaldi's successor Jodie Whittaker will be "phenomenal".

What attracted you to The Birthday Party?

It's a wonderful play. I have always loved Pinter and got to grips with it at drama school. Pinter's so brilliant. The text is so rich and there's so much that is not said. His characters are so weird and hard to figure out.

The characters are very real while also being slightly surreal. Lulu is one of those - I do not quite know if she knows what she wants.

Who is Lulu?

She's a young woman who lives in this seaside town a little way out of London. It does not say much about her background but she seems like she wants to escape the humdrum life that she has.

She gets very enamoured by one of these macabre visitors that come to the visiting house. Quite interesting things stem from that. The guy she becomes very enamoured with is Stephen Mangan, so it should be really fun to play around with that with him.

She wants to escape her humdrum life - are there any similarities with Bill?

It's a different kettle of fish. You have to look at the context of the play. It was written 60 years ago. When Ian [Rickson] and I discussed it, we said we'd like to explore the character with [us] both having modern feminist ideals.

You have to explore that and be true to the play as it was written. There are some quite dramatic things that she has to undergo.

It's very, very different, for her, wanting to escape than for Bill.

Did the things Lulu goes through give you pause for thought because they conflict with your modern feminist ideals?


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