Awkward Branch Productions talk queer comedy in ‘One Year Itch’, Barons Court Theatre 9 – 13 Jan.

One Year Itch playing at Barons Court Theatre in London
Anca Vaida and Andrew Phipps (Image supplied)

QX Magazine sat down with Awkward Branch Productions’ Anca Vaida and Andrew Phipps ahead of their new lesbian comedy, One Year Itch. Anca leads an all-female/non-binary cast, playing Tania Hagi, in Andrew’s script, about seemingly placing a curse on your love life to get the job of your dreams. 

How did the idea for the show come about? It seems scarily relatable for anyone who’s had to throw themselves into their career! 

Andrew: We’d met up with an actor friend who was going through a dry spell in their love life. Their acting career was going from strength to strength, however. During the conversation, they uttered the immortal lines, “I don’t mind if I don’t have sex for an entire year- as long as I get that Netflix series!”. They didn’t get the Netflix series (sorry), but the idea of a show about a self-imposed curse was born. 

How important was it for you to have an all-female/non-binary cast in your show? 

Anca: Very important. Andy really wanted me to take the lead role of Tania… 

Andrew: If you have a friend who is a seven-time Best Actress Award winner, it’s the sensible thing to do! 

Anca: So, the play immediately became about female lesbian dating. When Andy was working on the script, it soon became apparent that there wasn’t a need to have male actors in the show. It allowed us to give voices to a host of female characters who are much more than the usual stereotypes portrayed everywhere else. To put women and non-binary people front and centre became the dominant ethos of what we were doing. 

Tania goes through some horrendous dating experiences- where did the inspiration for those come from? 

Andrew: Two of the scenes are based on real events in my life! One is a bit different from how it all played out, although the essence is the same. The other is pretty much word for word. If you want to know which, you’ll have to grab me at the end of the show and ask! 

It’s a large cast, 9 in total! How did you go about auditioning for the many roles in the show? 

Andrew: We had a rule. We either had to have worked with the actor previously or seen them perform live. The show has a wide range of characters, and they’re all big personalities. 

Anca: Iona McTaggart, who plays my bestie, Jayne, is a superb comic actor and a fantastic writer herself, so she knows her way around a script. I worked with her and several of our actors at the Almeida Theatre in 24 (Day): The Measure of My Dreams. The wonderfully talented Jean Woollard, who plays Mrs Montgomery in our piece, was Liz, the main character and is an absolute star. Tizzy Kanouche, our Betty, radiates charisma. She played Jean’s onstage friend Jackie, and Andy and I fell in love with her. We also have Kelly Craige, who brings so much presence to the stage while being a sweetheart in the rehearsal room. Finally, we have Jhané Gibson from the Almeida, who plays Louisa. She has a real authenticity about her acting and is so lovely; we’re so glad to have her. 

one year itch gay play at Barons Court Theatre in London
Click image for tickets

Andrew: Buddleia Maslen is working on a show that Anca is directing, News from Vauxhall by Bird Mouth Collective. One day, I attended rehearsals, and Anca just looked at me to say, ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’. We hired her on the spot! We’ve worked with Susan Hoffman before on Anca’s award-winning TV medical series Psyched! She’s a hilarious physical theatre actor and a wonderful human being. Last but certainly not least, I managed to grab Ozzy Algar to play Vitoria de Luca (If you know, you know!). They’re fresh from their company Plague Stone Party’s Farewell, Tor and will fill our onstage A-Lister’s boots, no problem! 

When and where is One Year Itch playing? How can we buy tickets? 

Andy: One Year Itch runs from 9th-13th January (Tuesday-Saturday) at Barons Court Theatre in London. Tickets can be bought from the theatre website

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