Katherine Chandler’s touchingly funny monologue, Peggy’s Song, starring Christian Patterson tours venues in Wales this autumn
Katherine Chandler’s play celebrates the volunteers of our NHS is a gloriously funny but poignantly touching monologue which explores an unexpected friendship between hapless hospital radio DJ Danny Walkman and tough talking patient Peggy.
After his radio show at St Bevan’s Hospital, Danny has a chance encounter in the Garden of Hope with Peggy. They’ve nothing in common, but in Danny’s world everyone likes music, don’t they? Everyone’s got a song, and if there’s one thing Danny Walkman is good at, it’s getting people to tell him what their song is. Peggy doesn’t give much away, so it’s a race against time for Danny to find, and play, Peggy’s song.
A National Theatre Wales production, Peggy’s Song is written by Katherine Chandler, directed by Phil Clark and performed by Christian Patterson. Christian recently discussed the production.
Tell us a little about the show and the character you play?
It’s set in and around a local hospital and the character I play ‘Danny Walkman’ is one of the hospital radio DJs. He’s a lovely, lonely and complex character who loves and lives for his job.
How did the show come about?
I was doing a play at the Donmar Warehouse and I got a call from Phil Clark asking me to read this new play by Kath Chandler. To be honest once I heard Kath Chandler and Phil Clark in the same sentence, I already knew I wanted to do the play. Once I’d read and fallen in love with the play and character, it was a total no brainer.
You are shortly off on tour with the show to a number of theatres in South and West Wales, what are you most looking forward to?
The production was originally staged up in Wrexham last summer. I was hoping I would get a chance to take the production on the road and have some fun with it. Danny talks directly to the audience for most of the play so it’s always nice to connect with a lot of different faces.
What can audiences who come to see Peggy’s Song expect from the show?
It pretty much runs the gamut of emotions. I think an audience can expect a few laughs and maybe a few tears too. Kath Chandler’s writing feels incredibly natural to me…it feels like she has written for me and the beauty of her writing is that another actor will play Danny at some point and I’m pretty sure they’ll feel the same way.
It sounds like it’s a moving piece of theatre, will there be laughter and tears during the show?
You can never second guess an audience’s reaction, but it is definitely a rollercoaster of a play and squeezes a lot into a relatively short space of time. I guess it feels like watching a life unravel in front of your eyes but because Danny is in the situation, he doesn’t see it.
Have you based your character on a particular radio presenter or have you taken inspiration from a famous radio presenter for this role?
The director of the play, Phil Clark and I talk about this in great length. Danny has a great warmth about him and definitely admires the likes of Terry Wogan and Noel Edmonds but he’s probably mostly based on someone like Roy Noble. Personally, I think there’s a touch of Partridge about Danny too.
Is there a venue or venues you are excited to be playing in and why?
I absolutely LOVE touring the valleys! I am a valley boy born and bred and I still live in the valleys. I’m very much looking forward to playing Pontardawe Arts Centre as it’s my local theatre and I love everything about it. It’s also less than a mile from my front door and has a great curry house across the road from it but that’s just the cherry on the cake!
We hear you have a great connection to the Torch Theatre in Milford Haven?
I returned to the Torch Theatre last year after a gap of nearly 20 years…I’m getting old! I played ’Francis Henshall’ in Peter Doran’s production of ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’…unfortunately the run of the play was cut short as I torn the retinas in both of my eyes! It hurt me very deeply not to be able to continue and left me with a sense of unfinished business so when Peter Doran suggested reviving the production later this year I said yes straight away…in fact, I finish ‘Peggy’s Song’ on the Saturday and start rehearsals for ‘One Man, Two Guvnors’ the following Monday so the Torch audiences are going to see a lot of me!
For further details about Peggy’s Song visit: nationaltheatrewales.org