Later this month, Told by an Idiot return with their hit show Charlie and Stan as part of London International Mime Festival following a sell out run in 2020. We speak to Danielle Bird and Jerone Marsh Reid about taking on the roles of Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel and the legacies of the two comedy legends.
How do you feel about starting rehearsals for Charlie and Stan?
Dani: I’m really looking forward to rehearsal starting. I can’t wait. We had such fun last time and everyone’s so lovely and the room is so playful and joyous. I’m really proud of the show.
Jerone: How do I feel about starting rehearsals for Charlie and Stan? I feel excited, a bit nervous. I can’t wait to get into the room with such a great company and to delve back into all these amazing characters.
Can you tell us a bit about the show?
Dani: Charlie and Stan is loosely based on the boat journey that Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel took from the UK to America in 1910. From that boat journey, we use, in true Told by an Idiot style, our imagination as a springboard to launch into flash forwards, flashbacks. We imagine what life might have been like for the double act that nearly was, and to explore, and pay homage to these two comedic geniuses of their time before they hit international stardom in America.
Jerone: I’ll tell you a bit about the show, without spoiling it. It’s about how these two comic legends, Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel, and the journey that they’ve taken together. Some of it being together and some of it being at a distance, but I didn’t know, for one, that they actually shared the same boat together and went off to America with Fred Karno. And we explore the stories of ‘what happened?’ And ‘what if?’
What can audiences expect from Charlie and Stan?
Dani: It felt like such an honour to be playing Charlie Chaplin and I’m really excited to be playing him again. The audiences loved it and I’m really looking forward to audiences to having a fun time. It really is a very, very special show.
Jerone: I think it’s a piece of theatre that is fresh, although it’s old, I think it’s contemporary, although it’s classic. And I think it’s an experience that you won’t forget.
Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel continue to be huge inspirations for many in the comedy world. What do you think is the reason behind their longstanding legacy?
Dani: I think the silent movie era is so influential for all comedy today and it’s stood the test of time. It’s funny, clever, visual storytellingc and it’s universal so there’s no language barrier. The communication is funny, clear, simple and classic.
Jerone: The reason why I think Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel are still relevant today is because of the formula that they use for their work. It just works in comedy. For instance Stan was a great performer before, but it’s kind of a real testament to what it is like to be in a comedy duo and playing off each other. I think when people come together in twos, if you’re looking for inspiration for how to do it properly, I think those two were so brilliant at showcasing that. Charlie Chaplin, on the other hand, showcases what it’s like to be a solo performer and really, really hone in on your craft. It’s work that will be timeless. I don’t think it will ever die out.
What are you most looking forward to about performing in the show?
Dani: I’m looking forward to getting that back on the road and reaching a wider audience. And the audience loved it last time. So here’s to bringing that joy to more people this time. I’m really looking forward to catching up and seeing everyone and working on those juicy physicalities!
Jerone: It has to be the company. It’s such a brilliant company, so kind and so talented. And the work that you create under Told by an Idiot, it’s just a joy. So I can’t wait to get back and see all my mates.
Told by an Idiot are celebrating their 30th birthday in 2023. What’s been your favourite part about working with them?
Dani: It’s so fun to be part of Told by an Idiot’s 30th birthday celebrations in 2023 and being part of the company and in the show, I think they’re really playful, they’re really creative, they’re inclusive. It’s a really fun rehearsal room, very collaborative, silly jokes. I mean, it’s in the name, isn’t it
Jerone: Told by an Idiot, 30 years. That is pretty impressive. That is older than me. My favourite thing about the company is probably the ethos, the way that they create work without it seeming like a stressful thing, like allowing the space in the room for people to really shine and also honing in on people’s talents. Every single show that I’ve done with Told by an Idiot, I’ve really enjoyed doing. And when I get that call, usually from Paul Hunter on my phone, and it’s random, it’s a Tuesday, it’s at 3pm, and I go, “Why is Paul ringing me?” And I think, maybe this could be a job. I know if he’s going to offer me a job and I’m free, I’m going to take it, because I love working with the company and I really love working with him.
How would you describe the show in 5 words?
Dani: It’s funny, it’s joyful, it’s nostalgic, it’s heartwarming, it’s funny. Did I say funny? It’s clever
Jerone: Poignant, silent, energetic, hopefully funny and fresh.
Charlie and Stan runs at Wilton’s Music Hall from 18th January – 4th February before touring. For more information and to buy tickets, please visit the website.