Interview: Matthew Partridge, Putin Around

Writer and director Matthew Partridge set up Toujours Perdrix in 2014. Having spent the last few years working on adaptations of classic comedies, this week he brings his original play Putin Around to Barons Court Theatre. “Putin Around is a farce about two sisters, Jana and Nadia, who live on their own in an apartment in war-torn Eastern Ukraine,” he explains. “Jana’s boyfriend Alexander has joined the Russian Army. What’s more, it turns out that Nadia has been using their flat for a series of internet scams, including a fake mail-order bride agency. Things go from bad to worse when several clients turn up, prompting Alexander to come up with a money-making scheme of his own.”

As the title of the play suggests, it was inspired by current global events. “Having successfully adapted various classic comedies, I’ve always wanted to write my own play,” says Matthew. “The original version of Putin Around was written before the referendum, and immediately after the result I worried that it had been overtaken by events. However, after Trump’s victory, the controversy over Russian interference and Farage’s role as the unofficial British ambassador to Trump, I realised that it was more topical than ever. This is a completely revised version that has been updated to reflect present events. If you either like a good farce or appreciate political satire then this is definitely the play for you. It’s also a darkly comic look at a conflict that is still ongoing, even though it has fallen from the headlines.”

By day, Matthew’s a financial journalist for MoneyWeek. “It’s part of my job to stay on top of current affairs and politics – which helps when you’re writing satiric comedy. It’s also a really interesting job that leaves me with time to pursue my dramatic interests in the evenings and weekend.

“I set up Toujours Perdrix in order to produce adaptations of classic plays, a big interest of mine. Toujours Perdrix means ‘always Partridge’, so it fits in with my surname. Our debut was The Washington Ladies – a version of The Learned Ladies – at the Camden Fringe. Our adaptation of A Game of Love and Chance in 2015 was reviewed favourably by the Independent and a version of Goldoni’s Mirandolina was also a success.”

The play, which opens tomorrow, brings together a cast of six – Kit O’Donnell, Francisca Morai, Amy Balmforth, Andrew Candish, Liza Van der Smissen and Charlotte Nice. “Farce always works best when the cast is relatively small,” says Matthew. “In this case I’ve got a great cast of six excellent actors from a wide range of backgrounds. Although none of us knew each other previously, we’ve really gelled as a team. It’s been a pleasure working with all of them.”

Catch Putin Around at Barons Court Theatre from 23rd-27th May.

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