ED2018 Caro Meets ED2018 Comedy ED2018 Interviews

Marny Godden: Marny Town

By | Published on Sunday 12 August 2018

For a rather long time now we have been fans of a) Marny Godden and b) The Grandees, the character comedy troupe she has performed with. She’s been performing solo character shows in recent years but this year sees something of a departure for her: she’s going to step onstage as herself.

I was intrigued to find out what prompted Marny to step out from behind her characters, and to find out more about her in general, so I lobbed some questions in her general direction.

CM: Right, first off, in this show we are going to see a bit more of Marny herself, right? Rather than the characters you so beautifully play. What made you decide to do that this time?
MG: One of my biggest fears has always been to go on stage without the mask of a character to hide behind, and I do this in ‘Marny Town’ for the first time ever. I also wanted to expand my horizons and see if I can make people laugh at the same time. I hope I have managed to grow as a performer too.

CM: So it’s been scary to step out from behind the characters?
MG: Yep. For the first three previews I burst into tears unexpectedly in front of audiences who were expecting to have a laugh and not to see a big baby cry their way through a story about teenage heartbreak. It was pretty embarrassing I have to say.

CM: Can you tell us what to expect from the show? Will there still be “character moments” in it?
MG: Yes, it’s pretty simple really. I take the audience to Marny Town, which is made up of four places. For example: Rage Road, Crazy Street, Love Lane. Then I tell stories of my crazy youth or my rage as a child, and then go into characters from there.

CM: So there are lots of stories about your own experiences as a younger person? Was your childhood especially eventful?
MG: Yes, the show is coloured by my childhood memories and various family members for sure. I had a great childhood. But it was pretty unconventional in some ways.

CM: You’ve done quite a few solo shows, but we’ve also enjoyed your past performances with The Grandees. How does working on your own compare to being part of a troupe? What are the pros and cons?
MG: I feel lonely and miss the companionship you have up here. But the pros are I get to play out my own ideas and I have grown a lot as a performer. So that’s great!

CM: Your co-writer and director is one of your Grandees co-stars, of course. How does that work? Did you sit down and write together?
MG: We tend to get in a room and I tell him some weird ideas and he tries to tame them. He will watch me act things out and say yes or no. He’s also a brilliant actor, so he can show me how to act better.

CM: Can we go back a bit now and talk about how you got to this point? Did you always want to be a performer? Is it something you aspired to growing up?
MG: Yes, from word go. I was always performing whenever I could. I loved to make people laugh and was encouraged to. I don’t know what else to do… I am good at cooking and arty things, but making people laugh has been something I could do from a young age.

CM: What steps did you take to begin your performing career? What training have you done?
MG: I trained at Webber Douglas School Of Dramatic Art for three years. I have done clowning courses with Mick Barnfather too. He’s incredible by the way.

CM: What further aims do you have as a performer? Are there any particular ambitions you’d like to pursue?
MG: I would like to move on to making funny films and TV now. I have ideas for live shows too and I love stage work, but I’m excited about the idea of trying new things in a different format.

CM: You keep coming back to Edinburgh, of course – what keeps you interested in being here every year?
MG: I think I love all the life lessons it brings. It certainly adds tools to your tool kit. And I like to feel connections with people. If I can make people laugh whilst having a lot of fun myself then there isn’t anything much better.

CM: What do you look forward to about being at the Fringe? Do you have any annual edfest rituals?
MG: Seeing other people’s shows. I love all the walking I do up here. And pushing myself as a performer.

CM: And finally, what other shows at this year’s Festival would you recommend?
MG: Basically all of the shows under the Heroes Of The Fringe banner!

Marny Godden performed ‘Marny Town’ at Heroes @ The Hive at Edinburgh Festival 2018.

Photo: Mark Dawson