We spoke to writer and performer Harry Butler about his upcoming performance of Changing the Sheets, presented by The Playground Theatre, which is making its way to the Edinburgh Fringe next month. The show gives an insight into hook-up culture and dating in the modern age through the spicy and carnal, honest and intimate things we say behind closed doors when the lights are off and no one’s around.
What made you want to write about dating in the modern age?
I was interested in how brief encounters with strangers that you might only see a handful of times can have a pretty big impact on you. How certain people stick around in your brain long after you’ve met them. They can really mean a lot, even if the relationship only lasts a short period of time. I wouldn’t tell my current girlfriend that, mind you. Also I was fascinated by pillowtalk and the way we get to know someone in bed. It’s a private intimate space and a unique type of chat. It’s also not something I had seen before. I think the audience will get a kick about hearing conversations that they have had themselves in private, on stage.
You have some pretty intimate exchanges with your co-star in the play. Did that affect the rehearsal process?
I don’t think so! Rehearsals were always very fun and felt safe. The intimacy and having conversations about sex and dating might have been a bit awkward on day one but you quickly get used to it. I think Anthony Biggs, our director, did a great job of creating an atmosphere that felt lighthearted and fun where we could talk about intimate things. Myself and Máiréad are very good friends too which I think helps.
How do you want your audience to feel after seeing the show?
I want them to have a good time first of all. I wanted to make a pop play. Something that was accessible, snappy, fun and captures something universal. I hope it reminds them of flings they’ve had or the weird/cringy things they’ve said in the bedroom. We performed the show in Dublin in 2021 and people of all ages were saying how relatable they found it, which is lovely – a bit strange when it’s your auntie who says it but look, I’ll take what I can get.
What’s your favourite moment or line in the play?
There’s an argument just over half way through. The characters are fighting over what “meaningful” sex is. It gets a bit heated, in a playful way. They both get a bit worked up about it and score points at various moments and it’s a lot of fun. But they aren’t really talking about what they are talking about in the way that a lot of conversations in the early part of a relationship tend to be.
What are you most looking forward to at the Fringe this year?
I have never been to Fringe before so I am so excited just to see it! People keep telling me it’s amazing so I hope they are right. I can’t wait to see loads of shows and have a good time (please god). I’m buzzing. Nervous but buzzing.
Changing the Sheets is being performed at The Drawing Room in Assembly Rooms between the 3rd – 28th August and tickets can be bought here.