Interview: Jordan Mifsúd, “We always need humour during tough times”

Orange Tree Theatre’s production of Terence Rattigan’s While The Sun Shines has returned to the theatre following it’s acclaimed run in 2019. It’s proving just as popular the second time round with an extra week of performances added due to demand.

Ahead of opening night we caught up with cast member Jordan Mifsúd, who reprises his role as Lieutenant Colbert. His credits have include The Silver Tassie at the National Theatre, Much Ado About Nothing at the Globe, and more than a few appearances at the Orange Tree.
We spoke to him about returning to the Orange Tree, his volcanic role in While The Sun Shines, and the joy of a good director.
Jordan Mifsud in While The Sun Shines. Photo by Ali Wright

Q&A with Jordan Mifsúd

Hi Jordan, thanks for speaking with us as you approach opening night for While the Sun Shines. How does it feel to be back in the rehearsal room at the Orange Tree?

Hello! It’s a real pleasure, this show marks my 5th time back in the OT rehearsal room it really is a joy every time. The entire team at the Orange Tree are the loveliest people on the London Theatre circuit so it’s no wonder it keeps winning the most welcoming Theatre!

What can you tell us about Rattigan’s play and your role in it?

While the Sun Shines is a play full of heart and frivolous mischief! Written and set during the backdrop of the tail end of WWII, it’s a comedy that deals with many themes of national and political identity, international relations, female empowerment, toxic masculinity and of course LOVE… albeit with a very farcical witty touch. I play Lieutenant Colbert who is a Free French soldier on leave that’s fallen passionately in love with a WAAF (Lady Elizabeth) who he claims to be “The most adorable young girl he’s seen in England”. They met the night before on a long train journey and he’s now subsequently on a mission to save her from her “immensely rich and noble” fiancé the Earl of Harpenden who he believes is “doomed to extinction”.

What originally attracted you to the role and the production?

I was attracted by the challenge of playing a comedic role and having to master a tricky accent whilst firing out very witty and fast-paced dialogue and making it look like it’s tripping off the tongue effortlessly. Also, its just the most wonderfully farcical play written by one of the best playwrights of the 20th Century – Terence Rattigan… and the joy of working with director Paul Miller again, of course!

Was it an easy decision to sign up for another run?

Yes because it was so much fun last time. I love my cast mates and the whole team at the Orange Tree. Plus, it’s always nice to do something jolly around Christmas time especially when last year’s Christmas felt so solitary and lacking in the merriment that should be felt at this time of year!

You received great reviews last time out with Michael Billington hailing your ‘volcanic explosiveness.’ Has your approach to playing Lieutenant Colbert changed from the original run in 2019?

Haha, I forgot about that. Colbert is so full of passion that he struggles to contain it, so it would be hard to play him any other way. My maternal grandad was French and he was very much the same! I think of him a lot when I do this show. Naturally you make a few different choices especially when you’ve got some brilliant new cast members to play with!! You have no choice but to adapt which is good as it breaths a whole new life into the show. However, at his core Colbert is still as volcanic as ever!

Jordan Mifsud and Rebecca Collingwood in While The Sun Shines. Photo by Ali Wright

The play was a massive success when it opened in 1943 – how much does it speak to modern audiences?

1943 was an awful time when nations around the World were at disastrous loggerheads and people needed humour and love to get through the pain and suffering everyone was feeling. Luckily, we’re not quite at the horrific place people found themselves in WWII but we are still very much divided and clashing with other countries especially what with Brexit and the horrible state Covid has left the world in and is continuing to do so. I think we always need humour during tough times, and it helps when it’s paired with a perspective on how utterly ridiculous we can be as humans.

You’ve appeared in a number of productions at Orange Tree – what is it that draws you back to this theatre?

Paul Miller. It’s that simple. I really don’t know of many other Artistic Directors who programme as well as he does. He knows the OT audience so well and has challenged them and drawn in a greater and more diverse audience in many aspects, which is what all theatres need. It’s remarkable what he’s done to the OT, and I think many other theatres could learn a lot from the way he changed up the programming and also introduced brilliant new writers, directors, actors and creative talent to the industry… I love the intimate in the round space too of course, its pure magic and a huge lesson in stage craft!

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Every job is a highlight in some way so it’s hard to pinpoint it to just one moment. I’ve been lucky to work with some very special people, forging lifelong friendships and have a working career out of doing what I love. I’ve got to travel and perform in some beautiful parts of the UK and countries around the world so I guess the highlight for me is that I’m still doing it and very grateful for that… that being said I’m so glad I got the opportunity to work with the late great Howard Davies a couple of times.

What can we expect from you next?

I don’t really know to be honest! I really want to do some more screen work, but I’ll never turn down a good bit of exciting theatre!

Finally, how would you describe While the Sun Shines to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

Fancy a laugh and a good time watching a group of brilliant actors, directed by a brilliant director in a brilliant play performed in a brilliant theatre?? Then stop bloody hesitating and book! Merci Beaucoup

While The Sun Shines is at the Orange Tree Theatre until 15 January