Following a staggering social media response again this year, Georgie Grier's Sunsets took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm. Using her personal podcasting experience and love of rom-coms, her solo show ties these together to figure out if their idillic concept can be truly matched.
Speaking about what can be expected from her piece, Georgie gives us the details.
Can you tell us a bit about the show, and the inspiration behind it?
Sunsets is a solo play about one woman’s fascination with films and her attempt to find her own happily ever after, while recording it all for a podcast. I was, much like the character Denver, fascinated by romantic comedies growing up. They made life seem so glamorous and so joyful. I wanted to delve deeper into this and question what life could look like if someone applied aspects of this fantasy world to their reality and whether those two worlds can ever successfully collide.
What drew you to the concept of merging the podcast format with theatre?
I have a podcast of my own; The Screenster Podcast, where I chat to people in the film and television world about the productions they have worked on and what they are watching. I love chatting on my podcast but I’m also aware that everyone seems to have one! I wanted to make a little joke out of this. I then realised that a live podcast recording, where you record a podcast in front of an audience, would be a great setting for the play. It was a way of exploring what ‘content’ looks like when an audience is seeing it in the flesh and not just receiving an edited version of something.
What are your favourite rom-coms, and why did you want to bring some of the familiar tropes to your production?
You’ve Got Mail is obviously a classic; Tom Hanks, Meg Ryan, the backdrop of New York City. This film plays a big part in Sunsets, too. I was rewatching it and a particular scene caught my eye in a way that it hadn’t before. It made me realise that the storylines in romantic comedies aren’t always filled with sunshine; it just depends on where you are looking.
The familiar tropes of rom coms were a great way to help me structure the play. Much like the movies, my play has a ‘meet cute’ and, of course, a ‘grand gesture’. These were fun to incorporate and a helpful way of tracking my character’s journey.
How do the audience feel connected to the character, and what skills do you use to be engaging with this?
Denver is the host of this ‘live podcast recording’, so it lends itself to me breaking the fourth wall and having some audience interaction, which I hope are nice moments of connection. I think lots of people write characters they can relate to in some way. While most of it is fiction, there are moments of Denver’s vulnerability that are drawn loosely from my own experiences and I feel particularly connected to the character, here.
What has performing the piece, specifically at the Edinburgh Fringe, taught you about yourself?
Stamina! Edinburgh Fringe is a brilliant place, but it’s hard work. If you are self- producing, you have to perform every day, without much rest, and keep on top of lots of other things. That said, I was so happy to be there. If there was a day when I felt especially tired, I reminded myself how much I love performing Sunsets. I’m so happy to be doing it all over again currently at Seven Dials Playhouse.
After having a sensational response to your piece online more than once, how has this impacted your outlook about the show and promoting it to audiences?
I’m so grateful for the support I have received and the nice words people have said. It has obviously given me so much encouragement. I’ve still been developing Sunsets where possible and promoting it in ways I have previously found helpful; be that on social media, or word of mouth, or by inviting friends to come.
What would be your top suggestions for turning life into a rom-com?
That’s the million-dollar question! It’s different for everyone, of course, and we are all aware that life isn’t a movie; that fantasy is often very different from reality. But if I was to have some fun with it, I would say; look beyond the happily ever after. Because, once you reach it, what happens then?!
What makes your show unique, and why should people come to see it?
Sunsets blends the worlds of podcasts with films. It looks at the concept of happily ever after and the different formats that can take. And while it’s largely about romantic comedies, it’s ultimately about family, so I hope there are moments within it that resonate with people.
Thanks so much to Georgie for telling us more about your show, and wish you lots of luck wherever you take it going forward!
Additional thanks to Georgie Blyth for coordinating this interview.