Interview: Will Charlton on Love Talk, ‘You’ll be on that stage with us’

Love Talk, the new play by Emma Gueye, follows a couple from their first meeting at a party through their happiest moments, and their attempts to cope with the most difficult periods of their relationship until secrets begin to surface as they approach their fifth wedding anniversary.

Opening at the New Wimbledon Theatre later this month for a limited run, the play stars Will Charlton, Megan Cooper and Chris Austin under Gueye’s direction. Charlton previously appeared in The Other Six and Ghostie at the same venue, as well as writing and performing in Sunday, Bloody Sunday at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2019.

As he geared up for the opening night of Love Talk, we spoke with Charlton about the play and how audiences will see themselves on the stage and why the evening will be a party.

Q&A with Will Charlton

What can you tell us about the show?

Love Talk is a moment in time. Or rather, many moments over a ten year period. It’s about the relationship between these two characters (Adam and Lauren) and it kind of punches in on some of the most profound fragments of their lives together in this house.

It’s a classic sort-of kitchen sink drama with a much more vibrant, more modern feel. And a soundtrack that has something for everyone. This play looks at well-explored themes but playwrights like John Osborne, Arthur Miller…they can sometimes feel a bit distant to modern audiences. Love Talk won’t, you can really get on up into it. Without giving too much away, it is about love and everything you kind of go through when you’re in love with someone for that amount of time. And ten years is a long time when, y’know, you’re still growing as a person, you’re still finding out things about yourself and then all of a sudden, you’re doing the same with someone next to you. I suppose it’s a coming of age play as well in that sense.

What can you tell us about your role in the play?

I am playing Adam, who is the male counterpart in the relationship. At the start of the play, we see him in his house having a party to celebrate a promotion at this charity firm he works for. He’s this sort of ‘every-day’ guy, the ‘average Joe’ that you root for, y’know? He’s not impressed or motivated by money or expensive bottles of wine or fancy clothes. He cares for people, he wants to change the world – make it better – and he loves Lauren. But, of course, even the ‘good guy’ – the guy you want to root for – is flawed and Adam is a wonderful symbol that represents that; that we are all flawed. He’s got alcohol issues, a jealous temperament, some would say a pretty bad taste in music.

But I think that’s something we can all relate to and take from Adam as a character; it’s not all so binary as to say ‘he’s the good person and that’s that. He won’t make mistakes or do bad things or say bad things. The good person is good and the bad person is bad’. Life’s not at all like that.

How do you think audiences will react to the play?

Positively, I hope. I think people will feel something when they see the show, and they’ll be talking about it with their friends and family afterwards – maybe even their partners! There’s a lot to talk about when you’re watching a ten year relationship unfold right in front of you. There’s a lot to unpack there. People will take different sides, feel different things…what they’ll feel, I don’t know but ultimately, that’s what we want – for people to feel something when they see this play.

It’s very sad, quite uplifting, quite warm…for anyone that’s ever been in love, you’ll be there. You’ll be on that stage with us.

How has it been working with the rest of the cast and creative team?

It’s been great. We’ve got a great cast, a wonderful writer and director who know what they’re doing, everyone at the New Wimbledon is lovely; the front of house staff, the management team, box office…it’s a pretty special project to be a part of.

Chris Austin, who I’ve worked with before (plays Ethan in Love Talk) is just fantastic and Megan Cooper, who has come in as Lauren has completely hit the ground running. And Emma (the playwright), this is her first play – she’s never even been to England before and now she’s having her first ever play put on in London in this beautiful theatre – it’s, like I say, a really special thing to be a part of and it’s something that means so much to everyone involved. I’m lucky.

How would you describe Love Talk to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

Weirdly, I would describe it as a party. It’s an hour and fifty minutes – from the moment the house opens and the house music starts playing, to the moment of ‘lights down’ and it’s the curtain call – of really inclusive, dramatic, exuberant fun. There’s no interval. There’ll be laughter, there’ll be tears…it’s a real experience of that ‘night at the theatre’.

It’s at the New Wimbledon, it’s a great space where everyone can come in and enjoy themselves, and I think it’s gonna be a really wonderful four evenings.

Love Talk is at the New Wimbledon Theatre from 26 April to 29 April