The two actors have a Tigger-ish enthusiasm in their back-and-forth conversation, even on a Zoom at the end of a day of rehearsals. They first met six years ago on the set of Netflix hit The Crown. Foy had already gotten it from young Elizabeth II, and into the room when Smith came up with his test screen. “She was very generous,” he says, “and there was something that worked on it.” It turns out that they have remarkable chemistry and it is clear from their exuberant chatter now that they sparkle just as well off camera. They joke, tease and even finish each other’s sentences.
“We are friends,” said Foy, “and after The Crown said to us, ‘Wouldn’t it be fun if we did something new together?’ I don’t know if anyone would let we, then we independently read this piece, and went away, “Must we just do it? ‘”
The lungs of the well-meaning centers of the middle class couple talking about saving the planet and debating whether to have a baby or not. This production, performed in the theater of the empty hall and filmed on the Zoom, is live-streaming for the public, to collect money for the Old Vic, which has been dark for more than three months and is in a precarious financial situation. This is the first in a new series of theater performances, to earn income in solitary confinement. Matthew Warchus, the art director of the theater and show director, is a great filmmaker, Foy Points, so he’s doing some “very, very smart things on the camera.”
Although the two actors are ecstatic about the innovations of this production, they lack the materiality of the scene. “I knew that in this game we depended entirely on our connection and the other player in performance, but I didn’t know how much I expected to be in physical space to be able to touch one on the other and get involved that way, ”says Foy. “It makes me a little sad because you lose an element of what an actor is. There is something vital missing. But I don’t think it’s going to be less because of it, but it can’t be like this forever! ”
If you have not changed the way of thinking, according to the different movements, while you live on another planet!
Like all good plays, they think, this one works in different contexts: its messages around the climate disaster and environmental damage may well resonate differently in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Basically,” said Foy, “this couple is asking,” Is it love? Is our good intention enough? ’It’s a conversation about how we live our lives. In isolation, I have heard people say the idea of no planes in the sky and less pollution feels like a real opportunity to start again. At the same time, everyone is desperate to get Heathrow back and running and go on vacation. ”
Smith thinks the lockout has offered discreetly important to think about. At first, playwright Simon Stephens suggested Smith “embrace the silence of it”. It was difficult at first, he said, but he felt important to succumb. “With all the different movements going on now, politically, socially and ideologically, if you don’t have to reframe the way you think, then you’re on another planet!”
Is there any hint at the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota? “Yes of course. If your filter has not moved, or at least has improved slightly, then what should you do? ”
There is also their growing concern about the future of the creative industries. Earlier this month, UK culture secretary Oliver Dowden said he was medical convocation and arts experts to help get a live performance back on its feet. How do they feel about it?
A financial rescue would be the best type of aid, says Smith, since the arts sector contributes billions to the British economy. “A large sum of money would be a start. This is what they did in Germany, and we were able to do a lot of things to watch for the Germans, especially in the way they supported the arts. ”
“It is important to remind people of what is special about theater,” adds Foy. “We learn about ourselves by looking at the cheek, we learn about our society. You look at something, and it changes you. You walk around and think about it for days, weeks, years. ” She is worried about all those freelancers who fall through permission, net, and lose a new generation of talent. “I went to drama school,” said Foy, a graduate of the Oxford School of Drama. “It was only training I had had in this country because our grants were incredible.”
Foy had just returned from Unicef travel to Lesotho and Smith had returned from filming in Morocco, the entertainment industry stalled in March. He had worked on The Forgiven John Michael McDonagh film adaptation of the famous novel Lawrence Osborne, also starring Ralph Fiennes and Jessica Chastain. “All my bits were finished, but they needed another couple of weeks to get the whole movie, which is a shame. Getting all of the players from all over Morocco, again is going to be difficult. ”
How have their locks been? “Good and bad,” says Smith. “Obviously there are things you miss. I’m looking forward to this week’s opening ad and movie theaters. But I try to keep my head, in creative avenues and explore other things, whether it’s reading or learning things outside the box. ”
To that end, he was memorizing poetry and going on the old Alan Partridge episodes to keep his wits about. Foy watched BBC Pride and Prejudice again and turned his part to drawing life, even though she admits that the latter did so only after Smith let the cat out of the sleeping bag: “She’s like North London Frida Kahlo, ”he says.
Foy laughs nervously: “It’s weird, because I’ve seen so few others in human life, but I’m trying to bring life to drawing.”
“Naked?” Asks Smith.
“Well, I’m looking for things on a small iPad. It’s just not the same. But there has also been a lot of eating chips and pizza and drinking beer and that is basically becoming a giant pork. ”
She speaks of her immense gratitude for not having to face the stress that many others disagree with now, but there is a vague feeling of fomo: “So there are a lot of chances in life that I have always feel like I should be climbing a rock wall or learning French. ”
What about being a mother at the time and keeping her five-year-old daughter Ivy Rose entertained? “She’s back to school. The most important thing for children at this stage is to have contact with other children. I find myself thinking, “Is my child going to grow up in a world where everyone wears a mask?” I tried to be very calm about it because I don’t want her to think that the world is scary. ”
Lock interrupted plan for take Lungs to New York. “We have been messaging each other to make plans,” says Smith. “But in real Claire Foy fashion,” she said about two months before lockdownthat, “It is not going to happen. This virus will take over. ”
“I’m a huge disaster scenario for the person,” Foy explains.
Do they think, after lockdown, that the film industry will come out a little more intact than the theater? “Organizing a film is a logistical nightmare,” said Foy. “It’s like the daily Queen’s coronation organization. But I have no doubt that they will be able to understand it, they are amazing. There is going to be a lag and a time when things are not coming. But we all need more things to look at. I know I have to do! ”
Until then, it is socially distant from the theater and two meters from sticks, but also the delightful prospect of revolutionary romantic, suggests Smith. “I threatened Claire that I could break all the rule locks during the game and kiss her anyway.”
• The Lungs is streaming on the Old Vic site until July 4. Read our Lung review here.