Hull Literature Festival 2001 8th - 18th November
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Interview With
Linda Marlowe
Hull Truck Theatre
Friday, 16 November 2001

Linda Marlowe likes things to be right. Things have not been right today. A gift seems to be in order, to soothe jangling nerves. But what do you give an actress who has risen at dawn, driven several hundred miles and spent a testing day setting up a show? With stunning lack of originality, I decide on a small pot of roses, peach and white, unlike the large baskets of red blooms on stage. The performance has gone well, however, and Linda emerges magnanimous, apologetic and beaming. She accepts the gift and the offer of a glass of wine graciously.

Her one-woman show, 'Diatribe of Love', makes huge demands on the performer. When this performer also controls every other aspect of the show, the whole activity seems like hard work indeed. Wouldn't it be easier, more comfortable, to work with a company, as she has done many times in the past and let others take care of business?
'Oh no. It's wonderful, I have complete freedom.' Marlowe says. That freedom includes choice of material and, in the case of this excellent translation, a tweak here and there to catch the right tone, a turn of phrase to make the audience chuckle inwardly or relate to the sentiment.

But what about the rest of it: the set; the props; the costumes?
'I've bought a large car so that I can fit everything in. I load and unload and drive the whole lot round myself. When I'm not on tour, it stays propped up in my hallway.'

And what about being away from home? Surely that must be a bit lonely?
'As a rule, I try to get back home at night if I'm not more than a hundred miles away. These shows sell well. I have already performed this piece more than forty times and 'Berkoff's Women' was a huge success. There is a good market for my shows.'

So she would be staying over in Hull tonight, then?
Her eyes flick over to the other side of the bar. 'Yes, I have some friends here. One of them is a drama student at the University.' (Not many of them in the audience tonight, I note!) 'We're going out for something to eat.' Just as well she isn't being let loose on Ferensway on a Friday night, I think to myself. Not sure Hull is ready for Linda Marlowe in party mode!

I wonder what is the next move for Linda Marlowe Productions.
'I haven't made an improvised piece yet, so I am going to develop a performance which may include elements of autobiography.'

Her friends wait patiently for her company. 'Yes, I must go and join them. I've known one of them since he was three, you know.' With a smile and a handshake, she glides across the bar. The flowers remain on the table. I have an uncomfortable feeling, more like a rising certainty, about the fate of these flowers.

The abandoned Gift Half-an-hour later, set and props are stowed in the large car and Linda Marlowe, stylish in black silky fitted coat, appears to make her farewells. 'I'm so sorry about all the fuss earlier on. I do hope we meet again.' The Festival bookstall assistant's gaze flashes like a laser between the pot of flowers, pathetic and forgotten at the other end of the bar and the actress, about to make her exit. Marching across to the bar table, this redoubtable woman grabs theflowers and strides towards Marlowe, arm outstretched. 'You've forgotten these', she barks. 'Oh, I would have come back for them. Of course I would.' Next year, next year�..

Review: Diatribe of Love