Interview: Tim Hardy on The Journey to Venice; ‘No showing off, just tell the story.’

The Journey to Venice, which begins previews tomorrow at Finborough Theatre, is a modern Norwegian classic, winning the Norwegian Ibsen Prize in 1992 and televised in 1993. Recently revived in Norway, it has been staged in Germany, the Czech Republic and Denmark, and now receives its long-awaited UK premiere.

The play follows Edith and Oscar Tellmann, who invent new ways to travel together as they journey into old age; a celebration of ageing, fantasy, love, and the sacrifices we make to keep on living.

Ahead of opening, I caught up with Tim Hardy who plays Oscar Tellman to find out more about the play.

Q&A with Tim Hardy

Hi Tim, thanks for taking the time out to talk about us about The Journey to Venice – how does it feel to be returning to Finborough Theatre?

Because a studio theatre may be called ‘intimate’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good space in which to present a play.

The Finborough Theatre, however, is a great space. I’ve been in two productions here; Days of Cavafy about the poet Constantine Cavafy, and Waiting for Godot. The configuration of audience to actor was completely different in each case, but both times worked extremely well.

With the audience so close, all you must do as a performer is just let the thoughts fall out of your brain. A colleague at RADA where I teach and direct once said to me, “I suppose this is the place where we teach people not to act’. By which he meant, of course, ACT. So at the Finborough: no showing off, just tell the story.

What can you tell us about the play and how have you approached playing Oscar Tellmann?

The play is an original, specifically about a couple facing the challenge of old age. As in all good drama, though the story is about two Norwegians, by being specific it is also universal. We live in an ageing society, and we need to learn how to celebrate what can now be a third of our time on this earth.

Oscar is a man who has retained a passion for life, the deepest love for his adored wife, but who is frightened and sometimes almost terrified by his diminishing powers. Is he still acceptable?

Promotional image for The Journey to Venice


As well as your own acting work, you also teach on many of the short courses at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. How important is that work to you and has any of your teaching persona bled into your portrayal of Oscar Tellmann?

My work at RADA is an essential element to what I may bring to the table. As the American author Bill Bryson writes, anything that resists change is by definition dead in the water. I learn every day from the young actors I work with at RADA. I may interest them in the past and the now, they tell me about the future.

Finally, how would you describe The Journey to Venice to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

Our job in theatre is to entertain, not to lecture. This is a play which celebrates the human condition; which rejoices in the courage and the frailties of us all; in the sometimes almost ridiculous defences we try to construct in the face of a world which can sometimes be so frightening, but which in the end acknowledges that love is the thing that binds us all in this extraordinary adventure.

The Journey to Venice is at Finborough Theatre from 28 February 2023 to 25 March 2023

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