phone mail2 facebook twitter play
Gaslight – An Interview with Kara Tointon

Gaslight – An Interview with Kara Tointon

1 March 2017 Belphoebe New  | Interviews

Actress Kara Tointon has had an incredible career so far, and she’s perhaps best known for her recurring role as the vivacious barmaid Dawn Swann on Eastenders, becoming a regular presence on our television screens for four years. After leaving the soap her winning streak continued, winning BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing in 2010 and making her West-End debut in Pygmalion alongside Rupert Everett in 2011. Most recently, Kara has been performing as Bella in the iconic theatre thriller Gaslight across the country, portraying a woman who is the victim of a sustained campaign of mental abuse. We spoke to Kara about how she approached playing Bella and discussed how a childhood competition is actually one of her career highlights.

London Calling: Can you tell us a little bit about Gaslight?
 
Kara Tointon: It focuses on a couple who have been married for seven years, and at first we think it’s marital bliss, but slowly but surely you realise that Bella is actually being mentally manipulated and doubting her sanity, and you really start to feel for her. You always think of bullying in a physical sense but mental bullying is tough to see, and you doubt yourself and what’s right and wrong.
 
It’s a Victorian melodrama, so the challenge in the rehearsal room was trying to make it work for today’s audience and I hope we’ve managed to do that. The set helps a lot, it almost feels very claustrophobic so the audience get to feel that with how it’s been designed.
 
LC: Gaslighting is a term we’re hearing more often now – what was it like to explore this concept, perhaps in its most extreme form, with this play?
 
KT: The term gaslight actually comes from this play, and it’s interesting because it’s a very modern term. It’s only recently, since we’ve been rehearsing that I’ve been hearing it more and more on the news, with Donald Trump for instance. That’s what we hope the audience will leave talking about, it’s a subject that’s quite present at the moment in today’s society.
 
LC: Was there ever a sense that you didn’t want to make Bella too much of a victim, to show her empowerment and sense of self too?
 
KT: The way I’ve chosen to play her is actually as an optimist, a childlike optimist. She wants to make the best of her marriage and have a nice life, and she’s absolutely besotted with her husband, she adores him. But he’s got his own back story of course. There’s strength bubbling underneath, she has guts and can unravel the badness that has been spaghetti junctioned in her head.


Kara Tointon as Bella Manningham and Rupert Young as Jack Manningham.
 
LC: You’ve established yourself as a theatre actress now, but you’re of course also known for your television work. Were there ever any challenges in making that transition, for instance how the media would perceive you?
 
KT: Luckily enough I’m at a place now where I know what fits well with me, and suits my way of working. You’re always going to get people left, right and centre giving you their reviews, and we live in a society where people are going to be very quick to judge.
 
LC: When you’re reading scripts, what kind of roles most appeal to you?
 
KT: I try and always keep the next role different. You want to play as many different characters, roles and dialects and possible – it keeps it interesting and fresh. It certainly keeps you on your toes!
 
LC: Did you always want to be a theatre actress and is there a significant difference between performing on the stage and appearing on TV?  
 
KT: It started out as a hobby, and I just always enjoyed looking at a piece of text and adding light and shade and just bringing it off the page. There’s nothing more special than being live, you have the whole beginning, middle and end, and everyone has been on this ride for the evening with you. The audience brings so much energy too.
 
LC: What would you say has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
 
KT: There was a competition whilst I was at school, and I had to learn three big chunks of the bible, which was obviously really difficult, but I ended up getting down to the last three! Just standing up in front of that many people at that time, when I was 13 or 14 or something, that was a real challenge and I conquered it!
 
Gaslight runs at Richmond Theatre 6 March -11 March. Find out more and book tickets here.

 

Tell us what you think

You may also like

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Eleanor Conway began her career as a music journalist, travelling the world and interviewing some of the music industry’s biggest names. A ferocious clubber and party…

Don’t Wake The Beast - An Interview with Kill The Beast

Don’t Wake The Beast - An Interview with Kill The Beast

“We’re all friends because we’re weirdos,” says Clem Garritty, one fifth of theatre company Kill The Beast. “We just hope other people like the stuff that makes us…

This Week 20-26 March

This Week 20-26 March

Spring has truly sprung, and there’s plenty to feel positive about in the capital this week! Enjoy a market full of Scandi treats, some beautifully designed…

“It is not the role of art to give you a proxy for justice” Tamburlaine at the Arcola Theatre

“It is not the role of art to give you a proxy for justice” Tamburlaine at the Arcola Theatre

Tamburlaine is the electrifying theatrical study of tyranny and ambition written in 1587 by English Renaissance playwright Christopher Marlowe when he was only 23 years…

‘This new show is my favourite yet!’ – An Interview with Chris Ramsey

‘This new show is my favourite yet!’ – An Interview with Chris Ramsey

Geordie comedian Chris Ramsey modestly describes his comedy style as ‘doing stupid things and telling loads of strangers about it’, but if anything, Chris’ rise to the…

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore: An Interview with Director Tim Crouch

Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore: An Interview with Director Tim Crouch

It might be frosty outside still, but down at the Unicorn Theatre we’re heading to the beach. Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore opens on 12 March and…

‘Acting professionally is wonderful but also terrifying!’ - An Interview with Laura Whitmore

‘Acting professionally is wonderful but also terrifying!’ - An Interview with Laura Whitmore

Irish presenter Laura Whitmore is an instantly recognisable face on television. She got her big break in 2008 after winning a competition to become the…

The Best Theatre to see in March

The Best Theatre to see in March

Spring is (almost) in the air! And what better way to celebrate the lengthening of the days than by holing up in a dark room…

‘I like to take journeys away from myself’ – An Interview with John MacMillan

‘I like to take journeys away from myself’ – An Interview with John MacMillan

In the atmospheric basement spaces of Shoreditch Town Hall, there’s the chance to experience theatre like you’ve never seen (or heard) it before. Playwright Philip Ridley is…

Killing Time at Park Theatre

Killing Time at Park Theatre

In association with Park Theatre, Antony Eden's staging of Zoe Mills' first full-length play Killing Time is a witty comedy which reflects on life, death…

More inspiration...

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Walk of Shame – An Interview with Eleanor Conway

Sex, sambucca and Tinder. Take the walk of shame with Eleanor Conway in her hilariously confessional stand-up show.
‘Ultimately, my music is for the people, we’re the ones who need it’ – An Interview with Jeff Parker

‘Ultimately, my music is for the people, we’re the ones who need it’ – An Interview with Jeff Parker

We speak to renowned American jazz musician Jeff Parker about his latest project The New Breed, unearthing lost recordings and the importance of family in his work.
Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Top 5: Mother’s Day Activities for 2017

Here’s a roundup of mum-friendly ideas for activities this 26 March.
Brexit, moving to London and Denial - An Interview with Rachel Weisz

Brexit, moving to London and Denial - An Interview with Rachel Weisz

Over the years, Rachel Weisz has become one of Hollywood's most treasured performers. We caught up with her to talk about Brexit, breaks from acting and her latest film, Denial.
Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Amy Winehouse: A Family Portrait

Delve into the family life of this extraordinary icon in this intimate yet celebratory exhibition.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!