Interview: Scott Hunter, “You can be whoever you are, as authentically as you like”

by Jim Keaveney

Scott Hunter, who made their debut in Magic Goes Wrong, has again teamed up with Mischief, joining the cast of The Play That Goes Wrong in London’s West End – earning praise from our reviewer for their ‘standout performance’ in the process.

The play features cast and crew of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society who attempt to stage a 1920s murder mystery with disastrous consequences. We spoke with Scott about what it’s like to be back in the Mischief gang, being the first non-binary actor in Mischief, and how laughter is the best medicine.

The Understudy – Q&A with Scott Hunter

Hi Scott, thanks for taking to us about The Play That Goes Wrong. What can you tell us about your role in the production?

I play Max, who is new to Cornley and hasn’t had any stage experience before. Throughout the play, you really get to see him begin to enjoy the aspect of a live audience reacting to what he is doing… and sometimes he lets that enjoyment overcome him a tad.

You made your West End debut in Mischief’s Magic Goes Wrong – how does it feel to be working with Mischief again?

It really is a wonderful feeling to be able to work with Mischief again because I respect all of them so much and I think they are experts at what they do. To be told, “yes, we’d like to have you come and work for us again” is such an honour. Being the first openly non-binary actor who has worked for Mischief and being in their longest running and most known show is a massive moment for me personally and I think the message it sends out, that you can be whoever you are, as authentically as you like and be able to be in a Play of this calibre and be celebrated for being yourself, for your hard work, is incredibly powerful.

The company of The Play That Goes Wrong with Scott Hunter centre. Photo: Robert Day.

The Play That Goes Wrong is the longest running comedy in the West End, does that add a certain amount of pressure?

I wouldn’t say there’s added pressure because the show is long running, if anything you know you have a comfort blanket of some of the most supportive fans ever to exist. However, I feel a responsibility to the legacy of the show, its story, the original members of Mischief and to the part. I’ve reframed that pressure as a sort of fuel to push me further and further out of my comfort zone.

The chaos that unfolds on stage requires a lot of precision to create, how difficult is it to get right?

It is definitely challenging to be so precise during the comedic chaos that unfolds during the play, but that is half the fun, knowing that at certain moments a very rehearsed, very secure movement or section will get such a reaction, a gasp or a shocked, almost nervous laugh. It’s like a magic trick.

Tendai Humphrey Sitima and Scott Hunter in The Play That Goes Wrong at The Duchess Theatre. Photo: Robert Day

You won Best Newcomer at the Manchester Theatre Awards for Yank! The Musical and performed in Cruel Intentions: The 90s Musical. How does acting in the farce style comedy of Mischief compare to musicals?

There are definitely similarities with performing in musicals to performing in a farce. The heightened objectives, the level of emotion and thought, the precision I previously spoke about… I think those skills I’ve acquired from working in musical theatre have really come in useful and been transferable. The awareness we have as musical theatre performers over our bodies, from having dance training, is also a huge asset when performing slapstick, stunts or mime sections which are all things I do in this play as Max. I also reckon I could get away with bursting into song at some point during the play!

How would you describe The Play That Goes Wrong to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

If you can, get a ticket to this show. It’s a play within a play, where you get to watch a group of people, Cornley Polytechnic, try their darn hardest to put on ‘The Murder At Haversham Manor’… and it doesn’t go as smoothly as they’d liked… at. all! It’s full of slapstick, stunts, silliness and some very serious actors trying to save the chaos that ensues. Laughter truly is the best medicine which we could all do with more of and I promise you will leave with achey cheeks.

The Play That Goes Wrong is at the Duchess Theatre, currently booking to April 2023

Read the review of the new cast, featuring Scott Hunter, now.

Jim Keaveney is the lead critic at The Understudy. He tweets occasionally from @understudyjim