Interview: Rob Ward and The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me

Currently playing at the King’s Head Theatre, Rob Ward’s comedy about politics and coercive control in the gay community has gained positive reviews.

I asked Rob for a bit more insight into the production, which runs until 4 Jun: ticket link here.

Production photo from The MP, Uncle Mandy & Me

The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me is a dark comedy about sexual misconduct in politics and coercive control in the gay community. It definitely feels very pertinent in today’s muddy world. What should audiences expect?

I think audiences can expect an honest and, at times, uncomfortable exploration of this central theme and how it feels to experience coercive control, to be questioning yourself,
blaming yourself, wondering whether you ever did really consent to that experience you had.

Whilst I think we certainly give these weightier issues the sensitivity and respect they deserve, I would also like to point out that the show is very funny, combining some laugh-out-loud comedy, queer-knowing gags and darker, more uncomfortable humour.

We also have an incredible light (Will Monks) and sound (Iain Armstrong) design, brought together expertly by our director, the 2022 Papatango Prize winner, Clive Judd.

As both writer and performer, there must be a lot of pressure to do the show justice. Are there particular challenges or compensations in acting in your own show?

Absolutely, when you approach subject material like this, you want to make sure you do it justice. The play combines autobiographical experiences with research and conversations I’ve had with many gay men on the subject matter.

Our partnership with We Are Survivors, co-producers, has also been invaluable in getting it right. I think once you’re confident in your
research and knowledge of the topic, you write accordingly and then as a performer it is, as ever, about giving the rawest and most honest performance you can give.

Production photo from The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me

Reviews have described the show as gripping, funny, sexy, compassionate and engaging. Has it utilised ideas and testimony from male survivors of sexual violation
to inform the text?

It has, yes. A lot of my research in writing the play involved speaking to a wide variety of men within the queer community and regular consultation with We Are Survivors.

What’s the best thing about performing at the King’s Head Theatre?

The King’s Head is such an iconic venue that it’s always a pleasure to bring a show here. I was last down in 2017 with my play Gypsy Queen, a love story about two male boxers, and i’s been great being back.

With The King’s Head, you know they have built up a loyal and passionate audience, particularly for new queer work and the place they have on our
cultural landscape is vital.

Can you say a bit about the charity We Are Survivors, which is co-producing the

We Are Survivors are a fantastic survivor-led charity in Manchester for male survivors of sexual abuse, exploitation and violation. They have worked in consultation with the likes of Coronation Street, Hollyoaks, and EastEnders on major storylines, as well as offering counselling services and a lot of other great charity work.

Duncan Craig, their CEO, has been an inspiration to me and a huge support in the development and execution of The MP, Aunty Mandy & Me.

What do you think?

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