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Interview: Playwright Laura Horton on Labyrinth Diet

When Laura Horton put out a tweet asking us to buy tickets for her upcoming show so she wasn’t alone in the theatre drinking a bottle of wine, we loved the humour of it, and wondered if the show would be more of the same. So, a couple of tweets and DM’s later, we arranged to sit down with Laura, without any wine in sight, to chat about Labyrinth Diet; why you should go and see it (or watch the streamed version if you can’t make it in person), and just what on earth is chub rub?

Radio interview with Laura Horton

First things first, tell us a little about Labyrinth Diet.

It’s about a woman in her mid-thirties who’s still navigating body and life insecurities and this notion that she has to transform herself before she can thrive. The play takes place at a clothes swap party. She’s been invited by an old friend, but rather than being a fun experience it throws up all sorts issues. It also includes a very involved ‘witch dance.’

Clothes swap party? Are these common nowadays?

Yes, I’ve been to many clothes swap parties, in fact I’m in a clothes swap WhatsApp group. Everyone brings things they no longer wear and you just switch them. What’s left goes to the charity shop.

Are we right in thinking the show will touch upon body image issues and the pressure on woman to look a “perfect” size?

Absolutely, when I was growing up you had to be a ‘perfect size 10,’ then in my twenties it was ‘heroin chic,’ now it’s lip and bum fillers. There always seem to be an in vogue size which is unattainable for most. I think we have a really long way to go.

Your press release has the phrase “chub rub”, I’m a middled aged bloke who really doesn’t know the latest lingo, you’re going to need to explain that one to me.

Chub rub is an uncomfortable sensation that comes from thighs rubbing together. It’s often worse in the heat!

Ah it is what we suspected! Maybe we won’t dwell on that one. Moving on swiftly…

Was there a lot of raiding charity shops for clothes props as soon as they re-opened from lockdown?

The brilliant Set and Costume Designer Constance Villemot is raiding charity shops as we speak.

That tweet which got our attention said you’d only sold eight tickets so far, please tell us that that has changed since we first spoke?

I really hope so, I get the next sales report on Monday so fingers crossed!

You’re playing at The Space, how have you found working with them?

The Space has been wonderful. I sent an early draft of Labyrinth Diet to their ScriptSpace programme, it was selected for a reading last year and ended up happening over zoom. They gave me my first short commission in August 2020 and then approached me earlier this year to offer me a slot to stage the play for a week as part of Foreword Festival. They’re providing four emerging playwrights a platform festival to showcase the world premieres of their work, which is just incredible at a time when it’s harder to break-in than ever.

The show is supporting “Smart Works”, can you tell us a little about what they do?

Yes, Smart Works is brilliant UK charity that provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need. They harness the power of clothes and confidence to allow a woman to be her best at a crucial moment in her life, giving her the confidence, the self-belief and the practical tools required to succeed at interview and transform her life.

As well as penning Labyrinth Diet, you’re also Plymouth Laureate of Words, what’s that all about then?

The Plymouth Laureate of Words is a partnership initiative between Literature Works, Plymouth Culture and The Box. Over the next two years 2021-22, I’ll be a representative of the city, working with the community and organisations to explore and tell the city’s stories. I’m the first woman in the position and also the first playwright. So far I’ve written one commission that I’ve been reading out at events and I’ve just finished running playwriting workshops in Plymouth Primary Schools.

And finally, that bottle of wine, red or white? We may want to come share it with you depending on your answer.

To be honest I like all colours of wine, it depends on the weather so we’ll have to see, or I’m happy to go with your choice.

Make it a white then please.

Our massive thanks to Laura for finding time to chat to us. We look forward to sharing that bottle of wine with you in a packed theatre soon.

Labyrinth Diet is playing at the Space Arts Centre between 8 and 12 June. If you cannot make it in person, you can watch the show live streamed on either Thursday 10 June (7.30pm) or Saturday 12 June (2.30pm). Further information and booking via the below links.

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