Q&A with Pillow Talk writer and director Andy Payne

Beaumaris Theatre is delighted to be presenting a brand new play, Pillow Talk as the third show in its 2019 Season.

Pillow Talk is a tragic comedy about life, love and the promises we make.

Recently we caught up with writer and director Andy Payne and talk about the play. Here is what was said.

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Q. What’s Pillow Talk?

Pillow Talk is a new play. It’s a love story with a rather dark twist. It is a window into the lives of a happily married couple and their family, who promised each everlasting love.  Set in the UK, it references the Voluntary Assisted Dying laws which have recently been introduced in Victoria. One of the characters is a Victorian member of parliament.

Q. What are the themes?

History is littered with the sacrifices of lovers but would you do just anything for someone that you  love? I wrote Pillow Talk to be entertaining. It is a window into the lives of a happily married couple and their family, who promised each everlasting love. But can we really be asked to keep the promises made in the first flushes of romance? Pillow Talk is both funny and thought provoking. It is a conversation everybody needs to have.

Q. Who are the main characters?

The plays follows a couple, Henrietta and Harry, we see them over a period of thirty years from when they were first in love to the dilemma that faces them in retirement. We also meet their adult children Cassie and Justin.

Q. Where did the characters come from?

I knew I wanted to write something for a strong, older, female lead. Henrietta is an amalgam of a number of the strong women I have worked with, one in particular. The other characters emerged from the central dilemma.

Q. What kind of play is it?

Labels are difficult. Pillow Talk is a serious comedy. The comedy comes from the dialogue and relationships between the family members, the tragedy comes from everyday life.

Q. When did you write it?

Pillow Talk began life in 2018 as a creative writing exercise. I had been studying and teaching drama and scriptwriting with the University of the Third Age in Melbourne, U3A. The themes of the play were well received by those who read the early drafts and I realised it was resonating with the audience.

Q. What’s U3A?

U3A is a wonderful international organisation that provides courses and activities for senior members of the community. There are branches in Bayside, Kingston and in the city.

Q. What is the connection with the 1950s movie of the same name?

Absolutely nothing! The name is the only connection and I hope nobody comes hoping to see Rock Hudson and Doris Day. But anyone who does come to see the play will see why it absolutely had to be called Pillow Talk.

Q. You have said that the play is ‘set against the background of the Assisted Dying Legislation in Victoria - what do you mean by this?

I don’t want to spoil the drama for anyone by giving away too much. The character Justin, Henrietta’s son is a Victorian member of parliament working on an imaginary second draft of the legislation. He flies to England to offer support to his mother. Pillow Talk is essentially a love story.

Q. Have you written plays before?

I have spent most of my career writing and developing plays with acting students mainly in schools but it is only recently that I have started to write independently. I enjoy writing musicals and even in this straight play, I couldn’t resist writing one song.

Q. What do you want for your audience?

Firstly, I want people to be entertained, but I want them to be entertained in a way that will make them think and leave the theatre talking about the issues.

Q. And finally who is the play for?

That’s easy, anyone who has been in love.