Matthew Hitchman will shortly take to the stage of Newport’s Dolman Theatre as a drag-queen in Welsh writer Teresa Hennessy’s fabulous play Untucked.
Presented by Newport Playgoers Society Untucked will form part of Queens, a double-bill of one act plays alongside The Regina Monologues.
Here, Matthew discusses his role in Untucked.
Describe the role of David that you play in Untucked
David or Miss Dee Light is a happily married man embarking on his first foray into a life-long dream of drag. He is not only about to step on stage for the first time in his new persona, but he’s also about to meet a life-long hero- Irma Geddon, a seasoned veteran on the scene.
What attracted you to audition for the role?
The script looked astounding! It was lovely to see a modern play, and such a well-written one at that. Coming out of lockdown, just like David, I was scared to be out there. I thought, why do things by half? If I’m going to act, why not do it in gorgeous sequins and a blonde wig? It’s certainly attracted a wider audience than anything else I’ve done!
Do you have any experience of drag shows?
In our home, we pledge allegiance to the house of Ru Paul! We are massive fans, and I love what the show has done to really raise the profile of drag, show how inclusive it is and obviously how fabulous it is too!
How does the character of Irma compare to David?
Despite almost being in his 50s, David is naïve, hopeful, and desperate to impress. Irma has seen this all before a thousand times over in her 20-year career on the circuit. She’s got little time for such rose-tinted glasses, and even less when David shares his short-sighted, self-centred world views on some of Irma’s biggest tragedies. Full of laughs, this play will also cause the audience to summon forth a few tears as well. Will they end up as firm friends, or just as frenemies before David walks the boards as Dee?
How do you feel about singing in the play?
I don’t know why this is the case, but every play I audition for, I warn the director I’m Wales’ worst singer. And just as often I end up singing! It’s been okay before, because other characters didn’t have to be good, but for David, singing is his life, so I’ve had to try very hard to warble out a half decent tune. Thankfully, we’ve got some very, very talented singers around and I’ve been spoilt with some private singing lessons in the lead up to the show. You’ll have to be the judge if they were worth the time or not as I belt out some of Shirley Bassey’s greatest hits, but I speak no word of exaggeration, I’d gladly wear a hundred dresses before choosing to sing in front of an audience again! We sing, we dance, we do it all in Untucked!
What previous roles have you played and how do they compare to this role?
I’m usually down to play the role of ‘posh English gent’ in whatever we’re doing, so this has been a wonderful change of pace for me. I’m absolutely loving David and this script, it’s so real and normal, it almost feels like we’ve got a live feed to the dressing room at times. I’m lucky enough to have had the chance to do dark comedies, dramas and a period piece with Playgoers, but this may well be my most positive experience so far – and I’ve loved all the others!
What is your favourite part of the play?
The part where we go from comedy to dark comedy to very real, hard drama. I love a script that will make people laugh, then cry and hopefully laugh again.
How are you feeling about performing in the play?
Let me put it this way – David starts off exceedingly nervous. You’re going to see the most realistic acting ever for those opening 10 minutes! Jokes aside, I feel wonderfully supported. All the reactions so far have been incredibly positive, which is great, because to me, drag is all about entertainment and I’m sure this play will do that.
What is it like to get into drag?
It’s a long process. We’ve got the face down to a cool two hours now and getting better every time! I’m very, very thankful that normally I can just throw on a shirt and a pair of trousers as a bloke. And don’t even get me started on heels! The person that invented them should be ashamed! I don’t know if I should share this, but I’ve been quite the diva and begged to look glamorous. So, I have to give a huge thanks to our crew and costume team for giving in to my unreasonable demands, being so kind and as supportive as the cinching underwear we’re squeezing into!
- Queens, featuring both Untucked by Teresa Hennessy and The Regina Monologues by Rebecca Russell and Jenny Waferwill be presented by Newport Playgoers Society at the Dolman Theatre, Newport, February 8-11. Tickets: https://www.dolmantheatre.co.uk