Following on from a critically-acclaimed production in 2014, Liam Borrett returns with his debut play This Is Living which comes to Trafalgar Studios later this month.

Tamla Kari / Credit: Rekha Garton

Tamla Kari / Credit: Rekha Garton

We got the chance to chat to lead star Tamla Kari all about the play, how women are treated in the entertainment industry and more...

Can you tell us a little bit about This Is Living and the character you'll be playing, for those who are unfamiliar with the production?

This Is Living is a brand new version of Liam Borrett's debut play, following the production in Edinburgh back in 2014. The play is very different, about 80% different according to Liam! It's a two-hander set between Yorkshire and London with flashbacks going back to modern day.

I play Alice who goes from being 22 to being 28. She drowns at the beginning of the play so she's dead and it will go back in time to show how her and Michael (played by Michael Socha) met and what their life was up until the point where she dies.

It explores relationships, what it's like to die, to lose somebody, and what happens after you die, but it's not all bleak and there are lighter moments! It's all set in water so that will be interesting.

This is Liam Borrett's debut play as you mentioned - what do you make of his work?

Years ago I actually did a reading of the first version of This Is Living and it's come on so much from that first reading but I knew back then that the play had such potential. It sung to me because I'd quite recently lost somebody and it resonated. I love reading, seeing new writing and modern day stuff written for people with the working class background. It's both a blessing and curse that we knew each other before but he's a very talented, intelligent and he's very brave with this piece.

Tamla Kari and Michael Socha / Credit: Rekha Garton
Tamla Kari and Michael Socha / Credit: Rekha Garton

You star opposite Michael Socha - what's it been like working with him so far?

It's not the first time I've worked with him as I did a couple of Being Human episodes with him. You can't help but smile when you're around him, he's like a firecracker but he's so open, warm, and down to earth. We're from close towns and he's very easy to work with! He's a good lad!

Can you tell us a little bit about a typical day in rehearsals for the show? If there is indeed ever a 'typical' day!

I shimmy in late after the crappy tube delays, we have a cup of tea and get going at about 10.30am! What we've been doing so far is, because the play goes in flashbacks, doing the flashback scenes first in order, so present day and then we'll go to the death and what happens after the death. Liam's choosing not to really block it, with exceptions, but it's quite free. It's early stages, well we've got three weeks, but when we come in in the morning we run what we've done the day before, trying to sink it in through osmosis.

I know you're also worked in television and film, so how do all these different mediums compare? Do you have a favourite?

I've been working on the same television show straight for three years so I've been itching to get back into theatre, that's where my main basis of training was, in classical texts and stage. There are aspects of all three mediums that I love and I've been very lucky that I've been able to do a bit of everything but the thing I love about theatre is that you have a rehearsal. You generally don't get rehearsals when you're doing TV and films, there's no time. It's more freeing, you get to tell the story in the order it's supposed to be. TV can be quite bitty and you go over the same moment again and again. So with theatre you've done it and it's gone. I do find TV difficult sometimes, I find having a camera in my face and seeing my big face on TV and hearing my voice it can be quite difficult but with theatre you don't know, it's gone. I enjoy the routine of being in the theatre and it just grounds you more. It makes me remember why I wanted to be an actress and I think sometimes with TV you can get lost through technical stuff.

Are women treated differently in each of these industries and if so, how?

Yes, they are! I think across the board whether it's TV, film, or theatre you're treated differently. For one, there are less parts for you. There are some but obviously there are a hell of a lot less. On average we're paid less. Twice it's happened when I've been referred to as 'girl' - 'oh we need to get the girl in this shot'. The industry can be very gross. You have to have tough skin if you're a female but just in life you do too! Sure, we're treated differently. I hope and think it is slowly changing.

If you could take up any role in any play, which would you choose and why?

I would like to play the character of Minnie in D.H. Lawrence's The Daughter-in-law. It's my favourite play in the whole world, it's a great part, great play and the relationship between her and her husband Luther is gorgeous, old working class, colliers set in Nottingham. I've seen a couple of productions and knew from the moment that I read it that I'd want to play that part.

Going forward do you have any definitive aims or goals for your career?

I never went into acting to be a star but I want to happy and do good work that affects people. To mix it up a bit and do projects that I'm passionate about and not let it consume me as well but still be able to separate work from life. To continue to keep doing new things, things that challenge me, not get stuck in a certain medium or certain type of character, to surprise people and surprise myself.

Tamla Kari stars in This Is Living at Trafalgar Studios, May 17 - June 11.

by for
find me on and follow me on