Taking time out of her lunch break for a quick chat on a Tuesday afternoon, talking over a particularly bad line and my broken microphone, actress Laura Donnelly declared her love for new theatre:

“When it comes to theatre, at the moment I’ve just been enjoying doing a lot more new writing. I’m very interested at the moment to see what playwrights have to say, it’s a unique experience getting to launch a new play, and be involved early on in the process, the development of getting the characters and the stories”.

Ahead of the opening of The Wasp this month at Trafalgar studious, Donnelly could be in no better place in terms of new and fresh writing. Coming off the back of a run at The Hampstead Theatre downstairs, the fresh and witty play by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm has already seen rave reviews. About two old school friends sat in a café drinking tea and making conversation, there are both tense and comedic scenes. Donnelly explains:

“It is a dark and gritty play but it’s also very funny, the light is there in the lines, Morgan has written some very witty dialogue and a good amount of it is laugh out loud. I think that’s really important when it comes to quite dark drama because the juxtaposition of the comedy and the drama usually really helps the drama have a bigger impact”.

A lot of the drama centres on a key theme of bullying and the impact of bullying during our childhood years, Donnelly continued: “There’s a very strong message to do with bullying and the impact we have on people in terms of how we treat them, we should take responsibility for that treatment. Bullying is prevalent in schools all over the country and is a big issue for the young people of today and I think that it has a lot to say on the subject”.

A prominent theme like this relatable to many people, as she told me, “I relate to Heather, I went for 14 years to an all-girls catholic school in Ireland, the situations like the ones Carla and Heather have found themselves in certainly existed in my school, just like any other school there is bullying and I think it can do a lot of psychological damage. I think that having childhood experience not dissimilar to Heather, that has allowed me to relate to her, at the same time Heather’s life took a very different direction to mine”.

Working alongside MyAnna Buring has been a great tool to use in terms of getting to know the play and Donnelly opened up about the aid given, “it really helps me that she has performed the play before and so she knows it so well and has a lot of insight into it, into both characters and she can tell me a lot about the performance”.

Donnelly has been increasingly busy of late not just in this play, but with roles in television series such as Outlander and Beowulf. She continues to work across the different mediums and this is something she loves. “I watch a lot of television and been in a lot of television and the same with film, I’m very happy doing both and I wouldn’t want to just do one, but at the moment I prefer theatre. Theatre of course has the live element to it which means that there is a relationship between the actors and the audience that doesn’t really exist on screen. Usually when you come to a theatre piece it’s a more fully developed thing, it gives the actor a lot of work to do on it, it gives you an opportunity to delve deep into the material and that is very satisfying”.

However, she also states “in terms of theatre, or any work I just kind of look at the piece itself and the characters, whether or not it will be something fun and interesting to do”.

The Wasp is playing Trafalgar Studios until the January 16. 

Image credit: Bronwen Sharp