From New Perspectives, The Swearing Jar is a comedy about love, heartbreak, living with the past and accepting the future. We spoke to director Angharad Jones
What’s The Swearing Jar about?
The story revolves around the central character Carey, and the loves of her life. Not one but two love stories wrapped up with a few surprises. It has all the feels of a rom-com with a combination of gentle humour, heartbreak and hope. It’s an honest encapsulation of the mess and complications that come hand in hand with relationships.
It premiered in Canada fifteen years ago but this is the UK premiere, how did you come across the play?
I came into post as Artistic Director/ CEO of New Perspectives in October 2021. There’s always a period with any change in leadership when you have to consider what projects to take forward and it takes time to see your work and seasons take effect. My background is mainly in new writing and the commissioning new plays, a process which can take up to 18 months from start to finish. As a result, I began investigating existing pieces by female writers, plays that I can introduce to a UK audience for the first time. I read several plays but The Swearing Jar felt like a piece that would really appeal to audiences right now. After the past three years, we wanted to create a show that touches the hearts of our audiences and to spend precious time together in a room watching a beautiful, complicated love story unfold. I was interested in how we might bring a rom-com style play to a varied touring circuit and funnily enough it was made into a film for independent release in Canada and the US last autumn – but UK audiences will get the chance to see the stage play here first!
It’s been ‘slightly re-worked for a British audience’ what were the changes you’ve had to make?
The original play definitely has a transatlantic feel about it. There were references that needed tweaking to make it belong to a British audience. As you can imagine we had some fun coming up with British alternatives for some of the swear words and idiosyncrasies in the humour. We continued to make solutions in the rehearsal room, for example a song entitled “Too Tall’ which Kate Hewett also offered “Too Smart” as an alternative but our Simon is from South Wales so it has become “Too Welsh”. I hope our version stays true to the heart of the play whilst injecting a uniquely British vibe.
What style are the songs?
Without giving too much away, we open with Carey giving a concert to mark Simon’s 40th birthday. The songs are written as a series folk inspired sequences and acoustic ballads as a framing device and to move the drama along. The big difference is that only a couple of tracks existed as recordings so the first time we heard the 8 tracks in full was after commissioning musician and singer Joe Danks to provide a recording with vocalist Rosie Hodgson that captured the score. Since then as the productions musical director Joe has worked with the actors to interpret and explore both tempo and instrumentation and has composed additional music to add texture, to seamlessly engage and capture the audience in the drama.
Describe the show in three words
Emotional, bittersweet, beautiful
What will the experience be like for the audience?
We aim to sweep you along with us and will have done our job when as an audience you care about our characters and what happens to them. We hope you find it as heart-breaking, heart-warming and wholesome as we have.
The Swearing Jar tours 24 Feb – 1st April to venues including Key Theatre in Peterborough and Northern Stage, and to Midlands and South East community spaces as part of the Live and Local, Northants Touring Arts and the Artsreach rural touring schemes. https://newperspectives.co.uk/?idno=1168&s=96