As one of two brand new Sidgwick and Sanders productions playing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, Plague is a funny, family-friendly musical, set during what was the most famous pandemic in history...! Back in 1348, village residents soon find themselves becoming divisive when figuring out how to manage the threat (sound familiar?).
As one of the leading cast members, and part of the Turnip family, Sophie Massa has told us a bit more about the piece.
What can audiences expect from Plague?
Plague is a light-hearted comedy musical, but has some moments of serious drama in there too, as the people of Bogsfield come head to head. You will laugh, you might cry, and you will definitely feel uplifted by the end of it!
Can you tell us a little more about the characters we will meet, and how have you brought yours to life?
The story is filled with weird fun characters, and has pretty much every character that you might see in a medieval village! Baker, priest, headman, tailor… and root vegetable farmers! My character is a turnip farmer, who lives and works with her family, the Turnips. Bringing our characters and the village to life involved a lot of reenacting market scenes, making sure we developed the relationships in the village, and understanding what our opinions would be when it comes to battling the plague!
What does the music in the show bring?
There is definitely a folky, medieval feel to the music, but there is a variety of songs to take the audience on the journey with the characters. For example, the drama and conflict of ‘Walls’ contrasts with the rowdy, upbeat feel of ‘Weirdo in the Wood’, which is set in the village tavern. The songs are really catchy and tell the story really well.
Do you think the humour of the piece has been enriched by our own experiences of a pandemic and is now more relatable, and how has the show developed because of this?
There are definitely elements of this show that have been enriched by our own experiences. I think that both the audience and cast can relate to what the characters are experiencing - we can bring an understanding of the seriousness of the situation, and the hope that there will be a way to help! Some of the situations the characters find themselves in are more relatable post-covid, despite the fact that the best ways to deal with the plague are very different to the most recent pandemic.
How do you ensure that the presentation appeals to a wide demographic of people, if the piece is designed for all the family?
The stage presentation is visually impressive - the set represents the medieval village of Bogsfield with hustle and bustle and a variety of vibrant characters. The vibrancy of the village (before the plague enters!) is represented through bright costumes, exciting dance routines and some silly moments too! The ‘Black Death’ itself is represented brilliantly through dance and movement. There are also a few twists in the musical that can’t be revealed…but they certainly make it an interesting show!
Can you give us a little taste of the script, or comedy to be encountered- perhaps your favourite part?
I can’t reveal my absolute favourite part of the musical…so you will have to watch the show to see it! However, I love the the three modern-day ‘experts’, who are removed from the main story, but comment on the action throughout the show. Their comments (often made in song!) are absolutely hilarious and the three different characters work so well together.
How would you summarise the show in 5 words?
Catchy, uplifting, heartfelt, humorous… and a bit silly!
Many thanks to Sophie for answering about your show, and hope you're having a fantastic run!
Tickets can be bought here:
Additional thanks to James Sidgwick for coordinating this interview.