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  • Writer's pictureBecky Wallis

Breathless - New play by Laura Horton to be staged in Plymouth and Edinburgh

‘What happens what the things we covet hide us from ourselves?’

That is a question that is asked in ‘Breathless’, a new play by Plymouth Laureate of Words Laura Horton. This funny, honest and stylist piece explores the act of hoarding, balancing between the joy of it and the addiction and shame that can come with it in a story about trying to escape from a world that you’ve spent a lifetime building.

Based on the real-life experiences of clothes hoarding by Horton, ‘Breathless’ introduces us to Sophie who, in her late thirties, is exploring long repressed sides of herself. When secrets that she has been keeping from others and herself begin to come out, she has to decide, who or what can she give up?

credit - Dom Moore

‘Breathless’ runs at the Theatre Royal Plymouth from 20-23 July in the Lab before moving up to the famous Edinburgh Fringe where it will run in Bunker 2 at the Pleasance Courtyard from 3-28 August.

The show is produced in partnership with Pleasance and the Theatre Royal Plymouth, with this national partnership seeing the Pleasance work with important venues nationwide to recognise and fun extraordinary work that can then be presented at the festival in Edinburgh.

Talent development Producer for Theatre Royal Plymouth, Ben Lyon-Ross, as quoted in the ‘Breathless’ press release said ‘Working with Pleasance Theatre Trust offers us such a vital opportunity to support artists from the far Southwest. Plymouth is a vibrant hub of creative talent, but it can be hard to export work further afield, so the partnership is an invaluable pipeline that offers artists exposure, support, and a chance to present their work to a range of audiences and industry in Edinburgh.

I was able to talk to Laura all about the show itself, telling real life stories on stage and about taking the show to the world-famous Fringe Festival.

What made you want to write ‘Breathless’?

I’ve wanted to write about hoarding for a long time. I wrote a play called ‘Hidden by Things’ a few years ago, but that was a huge ensemble play and I need to be more established before anyone would consider staging it. When Theatre Royal Plymouth approached me last year to present a triptych of 20-minute plays, I knew that I wanted to write a new monologue. I didn’t have long to write it and this play started emerging. The reaction to that 20-minute version was amazing and it all grew from there.

Do you think that it is important to tell real life stories in theatre?

There is a trend for real life stories at the moment and I do think that there is space for it, as long as people don’t feel that they are pigeon-holed and that they have space to grow within the art form. I do think that work resonates when it is honest, but I don’t think people should feel like they have to talk about this in marketing and press around the show.

How are you feeling about performing Breathless at the theatre royal Plymouth and about taking it to the Edinburgh Fringe?

I'm recruiting an actor at the moment, I'm no performer! I love the Fringe and I can't wait to take a show there for the first time. I've worked there for years as a PR so taking a show as a playwright and producer is so exciting.

What do you want people to get out of watching Breathless?

First and foremost, I want to tell an entertaining story, for audiences to be held by the play for an hour. If the themes resonate than that would be wonderful. I've had a number of people come and speak to me after readings to say they think they might hoard or know someone who does. This story is seeking to look at the sliding scale of hoarding, I didn't realise I was a hoarder for a long time because media narratives were so extreme. If this play helps one person, I'll be happy.

How does it feel to perform such a personal story on stage?

I'm not performing it but sitting in the audience is always daunting. You're so conscious about people's enjoyment, or lack of!

Can you tell us a little bit about the process of writing breathless and bringing it to life on stage?

I wrote a 20-minute version for a triptych of new work in 2021, the piece had a great response. I was encouraged to apply for the Theatre Royal Plymouth and Pleasance regional partnership scheme and was selected. From there I wrote a 6o minute version, I'm not a planner so I tend to get it out then go back to re-structure.

Nic Connaughton, head of Theatre at Pleasance Theatre, commented in the press release for the show, ‘We’re so excited to present Laura’s first Fringe play as part of our regional partnership. Breathless is such a unique story and one I think will not only resonate but could affect real change in the people that see it’

I would like to thank Laura for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer her questions and wish her and the show the very best of luck

Tickets to see ‘Breathless’ in The Lab at Theatre Royal Plymouth 20-23 July are available here

Tickets to see the show at Bunker 2, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, 2-28 August (captioned performance on 26 August) are available here

The show is suitable for ages 12 and up.


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