Toby Truslove with Nikki Shiels in Home, I'm Darling. Photo: Jeff Busby
Toby Truslove with Nikki Shiels in Home, I'm Darling. Photo: Jeff Busby

Home, I'm Darling

A Man in Love

Toby Truslove talks about the difference between acting on stage and on screen, the joy of playing a man in love, and eating cake eight times a week.

By Melanie Sheridan

‘His constant eating is probably the most tricky. There’s an inordinate amount of cake being consumed weekly ... It’s a Madeira cake and I’m mildly addicted now.’ – Toby Truslove on the perils of all the cake in Home, I’m Darling.

You’ve been keeping busy on the screen the past few years. How does it feel to be stepping back onto a stage?

It feels great. Theatre feeds a different part of me than TV or film. The collaboration in the rehearsal room and then the feeling of presenting that work to a live audience who give instant feedback is highly addictive.

Johnny is a rich and potentially tricky character: he has to be empathetic and relatable, whilst initially (at least) presenting in a way that could be viewed as a throw back. What have you found easiest, and most challenging, about playing him?

I think that’s the key to acting. For me at least. I can’t judge the character of Johnny whilst I’m being Johnny. I hope that doesn’t sound hopelessly like ‘actor’ talk, but he is empathetic and relatable and also a throwback. They’re not mutually exclusive. His constant eating is probably the most tricky. There’s an inordinate amount of cake being consumed weekly.

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Toby Truslove eating cake, with Peter Paltos, Susie Youssef and Nikki Shiels. Photo: Jeff Busby

Why is a play like Home, I’m Darling – and a character like Johnny – important in 2020?

You know what? It’s lovely to play a man who is totally in love and willing to put his happiness on the line for the person he loves. That’s a reductive answer but I’m very much enjoying that. So there. And I think the way the play examines the way that the world can terrify someone, make them retreat from it and find comfort in something they know is eminently relatable. As the world grows ever more a scary place, a hasty retreat into fantasy is understandable.

There’s some fairly intimate scenes with your on-stage wife in the play, and you worked with your real-life wife (Intimacy Coordinator Michala Banas) to coordinate them. How has that process been?

The process was remarkably easy! I suppose I had a few reservations, I didn’t want anyone to feel awkward going in to the process. But Michala is such a great actor herself that she can talk to us in a fundamentally understandable way. It was great actually. The concept of an intimacy coordinator is a fairly new one to the acting world – why that is I’m not sure: it’s essential and actually makes intimate scenes much easier.

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Toby Truslove with members of the audience. Photo: supplied.

Do you have a favourite line or scene, in this play? Why is it your favourite?

I always love the moment in the play when Johnny watches Judy polishing cutlery. Nikki’s intensity is captivating. Johnny knows Judy is lost to him and his wife is essentially gone. It’s both funny and terribly tragic at the same instant. Moments of comedy and pathos occurring simultaneously are always my favourite. And the cake eating is generally a lot of fun. When the cake is fresh! Otherwise it becomes a choking hazard, which always adds a bit of excitement.

What has been your favourite aspect of this production so far?

The people I get to work and play with everyday. It’s a wonderful feeling to be part of a team that is making people laugh eight times a week. It’s one to be savoured. Also the cake. Have I mentioned that? It’s a Madeira cake and I’m mildly addicted now.

Home, I'm Darling is on at The Southbank Theatre until 29 February.

Published on 21 February 2020

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