Alexandra Keddie makes her MTC debut playing Jackie Coryton in Noël Coward’s classic comedy Hay Fever. We spoke to Alex during rehearsals about her character and working under the direction of Lee Lewis.
What attracted you to the role of Jackie Coryton?
Jackie reminds me a lot of myself as a teenager. She’s a little too eager to please, incredibly intimidated by bold personalities and has found herself in a situation where she’s totally out of her depth and unable to cope with her surroundings. I’m often drawn to characters who are seemingly not very bright and are dismissed because of their innocent approach to life. Having experienced that first hand I really enjoy showing that innocence doesn’t mean you don’t have a backbone and that underneath the fear is a capable human.
What were your first impressions of the play and what compelled you to say yesto this production?
I’ve always wanted to work with MTC and when I realised it was going to be one of the great comedic plays, with one of Australia’s best directors and a cast of some of my all time favourite performers it was a total no brainer.
What have you most enjoyed about the rehearsal process with Lee Lewis?
Lee is truly brilliant. I’m not just saying that because she may read this and I’d like to work with her again… honestly, watching her work and seeing how passionate she is about storytelling and the human condition is such a privilege. She has such a thorough understanding of the heart of the piece and knows exactly how to bring that to life. On top of that she’s created such a safe and supportive working environment that has made this whole process the most joyful challenge I could ask for.
This comedy of bad manners is nearly one hundred years old – what do you think makes it so tantalising in 2017?
There are moments where I’ve really had to remind myself that this isn’t a modern story. Aside from the language being slightly more heightened and having to be more conscious of my terrible posture, the themes are alarmingly relevant. It’s been a lovely reminder that although some social behaviours have changed in the last century, humans haven’t changed so much. We’ve always been dealing with issues around worth, value and acceptance, in whatever way that might manifest.
What can you tell us about the Bliss family?
They’re outrageous and I love them. A really big part of me wishes I was maybe their cousin and could hang out with them on the weekend. The family are bold and artistic and full of life and occasionally that passion results in a familial tiff but at the core they do really love each other.
What is at the heart of Hay Fever?
Hay Fever is a beautifully nuanced piece that delves far deeper into the human condition than I’d first anticipated. It’s both beautifully light and comedic and also deeply moving. At the core of this piece is a deliciously vibrant family who are impossibly charming.
Hay Fever plays at Southbank Theatre from 23 September. Book now.