Renowned West End Director, Lindsay Posner has worked closely with Marie Jones in bringing her latest play, Dear Arabella, to life. Here’s what he had to say about the process
When I first received through the script of Dear Arabella, I was immediately struck by it. I had worked with Marie before, directing her hilarious and moving comedy Stone In His Pockets in 2017 at the McCarter Theatre, but this is such a contrast to it. Yes, it has her usual trademark humour, but I was surprised by the power of feeling in it, its lyrical beauty and emotional power. A tale of three women, entrapped in different ways, one of whom acts as the unwitting catalyst for the empowerment of the other two. And all three lives are changed by chance meetings.
Dear Arabella is a series of monologues, and because of that I have been very clear about paying reverence to the text and the art of storytelling. All writers have their own musical rhythms in the play, and when you’re telling a story even one word out of place can jar with an audience. This is even more apparent with a monologue than with dialogue where you can get away with losing the odd word. I was trained at the Royal Court Theatre when I was in my 20s, which always paid great reverence to text and figuring out what the writer actually wanted and needed in the play. So part of the rigorous rehearsal process has been drilling, as well as actually finding character and examining every line of dialogue, every motivation. It’s also the first time as a director that I have ever directed each actress on their own, one at a time – and I think this was a first for the three actors as well, so that has been strange and intense in its own way. But it has been absolutely the right thing to do, in order to ensure that the three monologues are true to their own particular rhythm and music.
You can never quite predict how audiences will react but I do think that the audiences to Marie’s new work might be surprised at first but will be very much entranced by the stories. They really are very engaging and there is also a cumulative effect in Dear Arabella that becomes incredibly moving. In my opinion Dear Arabella is storytelling at its very best, both compelling and devastating.
Dear Arabella runs until 10 November.