In The Unspoken you play the lead character, Maggie. What was it that attracted you to the role?
I liked her journey of trying to figure out life. As an actor I get to explore so many different situations with this one character and it’s challenging and fun all at the same time. She’s strong willed and knows her own mind, but she also has a caring maternal side, which makes her very human and relatable, because people can be lots of different things all at once. She’s also very funny without necessarily realising it, which I adore.
How challenging is it playing a blind person, and how did you prepare?
Very challenging. Until I did this, I didn’t realise how much I rely on direct eye contact when I act. That might sound silly, but it was a surprise to me. I’ve watched lots of interviews with people who are blind talking about what it’s like to live like, and I’ve closely watched their mannerisms when they speak. I also got my boyfriend to blindfold me (I’m staying on topic, I promise!) and I tried to navigate myself around our flat to do some basic daily chores so I could understand how it feels to have to rely on my other senses.
You came into the project just over a week before the previews. Were you nervous about taking on such a challenging role with so little time to rehearse?
Yes. Absolutely bricking it! Mainly about the lines, but also just doing the character and the work justice. It was great having Eric [Whiting] and Elliot [Blagden] who had already been rehearsing for a while. And of course Jody, who wrote and directed the piece. They were all so encouraging, so it was definitely a group effort.
The concept of The Unspoken is pretty bleak, yet there are some moments of pure comedy in there. How do you explain people finding it funny?
I think it’s because there’s so much tension throughout the show that any moment there’s a sense of “lightness,” people just want to feel that release of laughter. Also, people really warm to my character, Maggie, and they spend so much time feeling sorry for her that it’s nice for them to enjoy any moment they can laugh with her, because you really want her to be happy.
Given the subject matter, are you at all surprised by the positive response the play is getting?
No. I think audiences go to the theatre to feel things, and this play gives them plenty of opportunity to do that. The play for me is predominantly about love and loss, which are themes that everyone can relate to, so it’s impossible not to be affected.
We’d like to thank Hannah for taking the time to speak to us, and can’t wait for The Unspoken to begin its 2-week run at the Barons Court Theatre. There are 14 performances between 10th – 22nd September, and you can book your ticket from the link below.