Out of Joint’s new production of Andrea Dunbar’s ground-breaking 1980’s play ‘Rita Sue and Bob Too’ is as controversial as ever.
Set in a run-down estate in Bradford it tells the story of two friends, Rita and Sue who each start an affair with an older married man, Bob when he gives them a lift home after babysitting his kids.
Ahead of its week-long run at the Lowry we chat to actor David Walker who plays Sue’s drunken Dad.
Since Rita, Sue and Bob too was written in 1982, a lot has changed in society’s understanding of grooming and abuse of power. Has any of the content been adapted because of this?
No. Andrea’s work seems almost prescient now, it resonates in this modern understanding.
When the film premiered in 1987 a journalist commented that it couldn’t possibly be real because nobody lived their lives like that. How do you relate to it?
I think that journalist was out of touch with the ‘reality’ of many people’s lives, an attitude that seems uncannily prevalent still.
How are modern audiences responding to it?
It’s very interesting to hear people’s reactions, those who saw the film when younger, now re-evaluating their opinions of the piece, whilst still enjoying the humour Andrea injected in her work.
Is there a difference between reactions in the north and those in the south?
Not really. The more interesting difference in reaction is between the younger audience, sometimes drama students, and the aforementioned ‘re-evaluators.’
Are you doing anything special for your run in Bradford?
We usually do a Q&A with the audience once a week. In Bradford we have one after every performance.
Is it purely a period piece or does it still have relevance today?
Our experience is that it still has an enormous amount of relevance for many people.
Your character is simply referred to as Dad. Why do you think he doesn’t he have a name?
Andrea didn’t give him one! In my mind, he has a name, but I like Andrea’s clean simple approach to assigning her characters.
What’s the secret of playing a convincing drunk on stage?
Hmmmm…. play the physical, not the knowledge? Most people don’t realise how ‘drunk’ they’ve become!
Why should people come and see the show?
38 years on, it’s still shocking, hard hitting….. and very funny. Cheers, Andrea!
Rita, Sue and Bob Too is at The Lowry, Salford Quays from 9-13 April 2019.