Rachael’s alter ego

Rachael Walton in Life & Loves Of A Nobody
Rachael Walton in Life & Loves Of A Nobody

Sheffield’s Third Angel are premiering their second co-production with Sheffield Theatres, The Life and Loves of a Nobody, at the Crucible Studio next week.

It tells the story of Rachel who always imagined living life in the limelight, but by her mid thirties is faced with the disappointment of unrealised potential. The play explores the differences between the future we want to create for ourselves and the legacy that we leave behind. Looking at ideas of destiny, celebrity, beauty and fame, this brand new show asks the question: how far will someone go to achieve their dreams, and at what cost?

It is written by Third Angel co-artistic director Rachael Walton and it is no coincidence the central character shares the same name, albeit with a slight variation on the spelling.

“If we called the character Sharon or Ann everyone knows you are inventing the name and the audience is aware you are there as a performer. This way you can feel you are dealing with a person rather than an invented character,” she says.

That decision seemed a good idea when they started out, but Walton admits she is now beginning to wonder.

Besides the work is very much a collaborative effort with contributions from writer and Third Angel artist Chris Thorpe, while co-artistic director Alexander Kelly is dramaturg providing “an outside eye”.

On stage with her will be Nick Chambers, playing all the loves of Rachel’s life, and Ivan Mack who will be mixing sound live.

Design is a key elemenjt too. “It’s very visual,” says Walton. “We are trying to create a pop-up of her life. Each chapter of it has a visual way being built in front of the audience. there’s a sculpural element to it.”

Kelly believes: “The process and world of the show is like work we were making 10 years ago. It’s more collaborative and more fictional than recent productions. This show has taken a longer gestation than some others and is more knowingly semi-autobiographical.”

It has been expanded from a half-hour monologue performed by Walton at the Riverside in Sheffield and then at the Edinburgh Festival

“It was about running away to the circus and that’s only part of it now,” says Walton. “It’s a collection of little everyday bread and butter stories which make up her lifestory. It’s rather like the way Peter Carey in his novels is able to make something epic out of small things.

“It started with thinking about this idea of being famous which these days is very different from when I was a little girl dreaming of film stars. It seemed to be something you had to earn whereas now there’s short-term celebrity.

“We watch the most macabre things. The other day I was looking again at the film, They Shoot Horses Don’t They (about the desperate contestants in a dance marathon during the Great Depression) and so much of it rang true about what we are willing to watch today. The best bits of The X Factor are the ones when people are rejected.”

The Life and Loves of a Nobody runs at the Crucible Studio from Tuesday to Saturday.