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Sian Clifford interview: We just really do not have approaches for grief

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Sian Clifford interview: We just don’t have strategies for grief

It is a little something we just do not deal with. And so we can not deal with it correctly, because we never offer with it at all. We just do not have techniques.” Sian Clifford is conversing about some thing we do not truly discuss about: grief.

And but, at the moment, it is the subject on everyone’s mind. Our country is collectively mourning the harrowing milestone of above 100,000 Covid-19 fatalities, as perfectly as the wounding reduction of a calendar year of memories hardly ever made with pals and loved ones. Grief was at the coronary heart of Fleabag, for which Clifford, 38, gained a Bafta past calendar year for her profession-defining position as Fleabag’s sister Claire. This thirty day period she returns to the subject yet again in Great Grief, a new hybrid function of theatre and movie currently being produced on the net.

Filmed on a Covid-secure established around two days in early December, Lorien Haynes’ enjoy charts how a person woman’s death knocks two persons off their axis. Nikesh Patel performs Adam, her companion, and Clifford is Cat, her most effective pal. “When I 1st read the engage in it entirely knocked me sideways,” Clifford tells me on Zoom. “What truly struck me especially is that it’s a genuine celebration of the person who has died – she feels quite present in the engage in to me, and it is not in a type of morose, melancholic way but in a definitely fun way.”

We may well be traditionally terrible at chatting about grief, but Clifford does consider there is been progress not too long ago, particularly in the earlier calendar year. “Certainly for me, 1 of the most wonderful things that has occur out of all of this is that it is completely improved sure relationships I have, and the openness of conversations about mental health – actually asking folks and indicating it, how are you accomplishing?”

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Nikesh Patel and Sian Clifford in Very good Grief

/ Platform Provides )

The building of Good Grief was a whirlwind approach, with two months of rehearsals on Zoom – which include Clifford and Patel trying to established up their rooms to make it truly feel like they were in the same house. Developed by Platform Provides and directed by Natalie Abrahami, the venture intermingles theatre and movie by borrowing the positive aspects of both types: personal shut-ups, along with a deliberately sparse established that invites to audiences to be part of in the imaginative operate. The generation crew are proven in between scenes, a reminder of the workforce essential to make it occur. “We wished to celebrate the reality that we were being performing this regardless of everything and simply because of everything. This venture and the innovation is borne totally of Covid – looking at approaches that we can preserve theatre heading and lead to preserving that sector, even though theatres continue being shut,” suggests Clifford.

While her focus is now toward screen operate – “that’s exactly where I want to hone my craft, and it scares me more” – Clifford would return to the stage once again for the ideal task. She’s worked with a formidable assortment of theatre abilities, from administrators Katie Mitchell and Lyndsey Turner, to writers like Annie Baker and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. (“Oh, quit!” she yelps with delight when I deliver up her performance in the latter’s shockingly violent Gloria in 2017). “I want theatre generally to be a section of my life. It is the bedrock of my instruction – I’ve been performing theatre due to the fact I was 6 yrs previous so it’s definitely just in my bones.”  

Centered in London, Clifford acquired a puppy in lockdown (which you might have read barking excitedly in her put up-Bafta gain interview) but work has retained her occupied. None of her initiatives have been cancelled and when we converse she’s back again on established filming an as-nonetheless-unannounced project. Right after the whirlwind journey of Fleabag, adopted by starring in the very first major telly strike of lockdown, Quiz, she was thankful for a instant to sluggish down. A latest fellow solid member of hers was also in a present that was vastly well-known in lockdown, “and they have been stating, at the beginning of lockdown it was really rough for them due to the fact they had a great deal of vitality. I was coming off a year’s press tour for Fleabag, with awards period and handling work and new responsibilities and possibilities. Yeah, it was a large amount. There was absolutely a time period of restoration in the beginning of lockdown that I was so grateful for.”

The rigorous protection measures of her present-day set make everybody seem, in her words and phrases, “like you are dwelling in 2001: A Area Odyssey”, but being in a space with other men and women is an encounter of “unbridled joy”. “Everyone is so joyful to be there and to be ready to be doing work and to be executing what we love. But at the similar time I found myself declaring to somebody the other working day, ‘oh yeah, everything’s fairly regular for me’. But of course, I glimpse close to see all these individuals in robotic seeking outfits – of course it is not. We have just adapted, and I imagine it’s just one of the points that people are ideal at.”

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Sian Clifford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge at the 2019 Emmy Awards

/ Getty Illustrations or photos )

Though she’s not equipped to spill the beans on forthcoming jobs, Clifford is thrilled by the options staying given to her article-Fleabag – together with performing some creating of her individual. “I have a lot of suggestions. Often I have to wrestle to switch the faucet off for the reason that I believe of things all the time, but I’m a terrible, terrible procrastinator.” Hence the fact she’s just bought an egg timer to check out and practise the Pomodoro technique (a time administration system that splits the time you have readily available into 25 moment chunks separated by brief intervals of in between 5 and 20 minutes).  

The long term also holds – of class – performing with Phoebe Waller-Bridge yet again, who Clifford has recognized since drama university. Waller-Bridge wrote the part of Claire in particular for Clifford, and the magic of female inventive partnerships like Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble, and Greta Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan, has impressed some certainly brilliant perform. Is now the time for females to rejoice being each other’s muse? “I just appreciate that word muse – and I totally imagine which is what Phoebe and I are to every other, if that does not seem as well sycophantic. I’m so motivated by her courageousness – I’ve observed her whole trajectory from when she was 18 a long time previous,” Clifford agrees.

Waller-Bridge has been Clifford’s champion and she is keenly knowledgeable of that. “This work that I just commenced, I sent her a image of my get in touch with sheet on Monday and I just said, ‘thank you from the pretty depths of my soul’. Mainly because it is in the end for the reason that of her belief in me that I acquired in this article. I necessarily mean, she’ll often argue that it was me that did the operate, but I assume we’re going to have that argument for the relaxation of our lives about who to give credit to.”

There is a lot on the horizon for Clifford – “I’m confused on the everyday at the second about what has occurred to my life” – but one particular detail thrills her most of all, and it must thrill all of us also. “One of the assignments that I’m going to do with Phoebe is undoubtedly the matter I imagine we’re each a lot more energized about than anything else. We can not wait to share it with the entire world.”

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Domina: Target on feminine working experience provides this period piece depth

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<p>The series emphasises how rough women had it in ancient Rome</p>
W

hen the younger Livia (Nadia Parkes) learns that she is expecting with her second kid, she goes on a rampage, smashing up a domestic shrine in advance of running into the sea to scream at the heavens, asking the gods what she has completed to are entitled to this. Afterwards, when Octavia, one more young lady with immaculately Babylissed curls, discovers she is about to be married off in a politically expedient union, she seems fatigued. She’d “hoped to be left by itself for a whilst at least” just after giving birth to two infants in two many years – and a further marriage inevitably means a lot more pregnancies. “You usually get worried each delivery will be your final,” she says.

In Domina, the huge budget new time period drama from Sky checking out the lifetime of Livia Drusilla, we are repeatedly revealed that for ladies, Roman everyday living was garbage. Their key purpose was to pop out heirs, but supplying delivery was painful (“like shitting out a statue,” as 1 new mom places it) and perilous. It’s no surprise that the show’s younger heroines are less than thrilled when they discover they’re knocked up. These signposts are about as delicate as teenage Livia’s go-to strategy of fending off an assassin in the opening times of episode one particular (she bashes him more than the head with a massive rock, numerous periods) but they definitely increase an attention-grabbing dimension to the show’s depiction of woman electric power in historic Rome.

Writer Simon Burke keeps reminding us that no matter what political affect and position an educated female like Livia may hope to maintain – more than their fathers, husbands or the country by itself – their lives had been generally contingent and fragile. The girlboss-ification of woman figures from heritage is huge company proper now, but this stress, captured in potent performances from Parkes and Kasia Smutniak (who plays the more mature Livia from episode three onwards), provides the title character nuance – and, crucially, stops her from emotion like just yet another identikit badass girl on a horse.

The series emphasises how tough gals had it in historical Rome

/ Sky

As the collection opens, our teenage heroine, whose enlightened dad Livius (performed by Liam Cunningham) has finished the unthinkable and educated his daughter, is about to be married off to the distinctly underwhelming Nero (not the famed just one). Their wedding, a single of several beautifully turned-out established items, is marked by snatched, furtive discussions concerning adult men in togas: the demise of Julius Caesar has left a electrical power vacuum, and his son Gaius (the upcoming Caesar Augustus) is desperate to fill it, while republicans like Livius favour a additional democratic established-up. Amid all the skulduggery, while, there’s time for some small communicate about Roman plumbing: “We got linked to the aqueduct final calendar year!” Livius tells Gaius (Tom Glynn-Carney, unrecognisable from his convert as Mark Rylance’s angelic sidekick in Dunkirk many thanks to a black wig that screams My Chemical Romance circa 2006) when he accosts him in the toilet.

From right here, the plot sets off at a breakneck rate, sprinting through broad swathes of background. When a selling price is put on his head, Livius flees to Greece, Livia and Nero go on the operate, then are referred to as back again to Rome, in which she commences a new romance with Gaius (significantly to the chagrin of his wife Scribonia). In episode 3, there is a finish transform of cast as the motion skips ahead 12 years, with a expecting Livia (Smutniak) vying to secure her now-husband (Matthew McNulty)’s electricity foundation in the Senate.

Kasia Smutniak normally takes on the function of Livia from episode 3

/ Sky

With frequent leaps forward in time, the dialogue generally strains under the excess weight of all the exposition that is essential to maintain us up to velocity (this ponderousness is not helped by the Roman tendency to give essential males several names), but for each individual potted history, there is a memorable, zingy line, like Livia’s response when she overhears Octavia and Scribonia mocking her at her very own wedding. “I’m youthful, prettier and richer than you, so why are you laughing at me?” she fumes, like a BC Blair Waldorf.

Cramming Livia’s prolonged, interesting life into just 8 episodes is an ambitious enterprise, so whilst Domina’s shifts in tone are relentless and often jarring, it is under no circumstances boring, The blend of significant drama and even higher creation values is generally an desirable just one, making this an entertaining spin on historic Rome, given depth by its compelling heroine.

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