One night - five women - how will it end? That's the intriguing tag-line of Angie Lemar's new play, Forty, showing at the Hackney Empire between 2nd August - 17th August. The play tells the story of Carol, who on the eve of her 40th birthday decides to mark the occasion by planning a reunion with four of her closest school friends. But what starts out as a night of celebration, quickly spirals into an atmosphere of fraught contention.
I caught up with Angie a few weeks ago and she seemed genuinely excited by this project. Considering the radio-personality/playwright is in her forth decade herself, means that she was able to lend her own personal experiences to the script. I for one, can't believe the big four-0 is breathing down my neck like an unwanted passenger on a packed rush hour train. So for this very reason I'll definitely be checking it out with my girls to see what's in store. Please ensure that you go out and support too - sounds like a good one. www.hackneyempire.co.uk
You’ve been quiet for a while, what have you been up to?
Angie: Well I left Choice FM around Christmas last year and went to Jamaica for four months to do some writing and just to re-group. And then I came back to put plan into action. This play Forty is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I really wanted to get back into writing, producing, film and television. So I took time off radio, because radio takes up such a lot of time. Brothers is something we’re doing for TV now. So there’s a lot of stuff I had to project manage. I’m also back on stage now. I’ve gone down the gym, started eating healthily, and I feeling good about myself, and actually looking forward to stepping back on stage because I’m going back into stand up too.
There’s much speculation as to why you left Choice, some people say you were pushed, while others say you wanted to leave. Can you clear up the rumours?
Angie: Well my contract doesn’t actually end until the end of the year. But I just wanted to get out of the contract. I think I just woke up one day and said ‘you know what, I’m tired’. The work that it takes to run the show was a lot. I don’t like when (my) standards dip. I wanted to keep it up and I needed more support in order to do the things that I wanted to do. So I just thought I can’t do this anymore. It was a hard decision, and I miss it. But there was no bad feeling. It was just me saying that I have to get off this treadmill.
Your new play is about a group of women who turn 40, what inspired you to write it?
Angie: This play has taken me seven years to write, I was avoiding it. I wrote 'Brothers' which blew up and then 'Do you know where you daughter is?' And it kind of prepared me to come back to 'Forty'. This is a hard play to write because it’s set in one location. So that’s a lot of writing and a lot of angles to come from.
Was the story based on you arriving at the big 4.0?
Angie: Well you know they say life begins at 40? When I was younger I just thought I’m never gonna get that old. But then when I was getting closer to it I thought to myself ‘how am going to feel?’ When I got there I felt fantastic. I’ve got all my kids out the way. I’m settled in my life. I’m still raving and doing things I never thought I’d be doing. That made me realise that this age thing is rubbish. Some of my friends came to my 40th birthday party who I hadn’t seen since school. 25 years just flew by just like that. Then I thought, you know what, there are certain things that happen at school that decide who you are going to be. Especially the character I play ‘Sandra’ who is a very straightforward girl. The other character, Mandy who is mixed race, was called ‘half breed’ by and it has stayed with her to this day. And that’s the kind of things we are talking about. This is our Waiting to Exhale, our Sex and the City, but it’s UK. It’s our story this time.