Interview: Kate Perry, The Very Perry Show

Kate Perry is an actress, radio presenter and writer originally from Dungannon, Co. Tyrone, known and loved by audiences worldwide for her comedy monologues and colourful characters. This November, Kate brings The Very Perry Show – which she describes as “a happy hour of comic monologues featuring a pair of glasses, a rubber hat and a can of WD40” – to London’s Hen and Chickens, following huge success in Edinburgh, San Francisco and beyond. After the London run, she’ll be heading to New York to perform the show in the prestigious United Theatre Solo Festival.

The story of Kate’s career begins back in the 1990s: “I started my writing and acting career presenting my characters in a little venue called The Marsh in the Mission district of San Francisco, which is still going strong today,” she explains. “I was also a member of The Fifth Province Theatre Company, that put on contemporary Irish plays and I got a lot of experience acting with them. While still living in San Francisco I adapted the novel No Mate For The Magpie for the stage, which premiered in the U.S. and toured Ireland to critical acclaim.

“When I returned to Ireland in the late nineties I continued to write and perform my own material but was also offered opportunities to write for radio, which opened up doors for me on RTE, the national broadcaster, and then BBC Radio 4. I completed an MPhil in creative writing in Trinity College, Dublin then made the move to London in 2014. Since then I have been developing The Very Perry Show, performing it in London, Ireland, Edinburgh and San Francisco.”

In a career spanning almost three decades, it’s not surprising that there have been a lot of highlights. “One of the biggest has been getting commissioned to write a Woman’s Hour series based on sketches I had written for The Dublin Fringe Festival,” recalls Kate. “Also, writing monologues and short stories for BBC Radio 4 for the fabulously talented Tamsin Grieg, Doreen Keogh and Conleth Hill. More recently I have been given the opportunity to perform my show in New York, on 42nd Street as part of The United Theater Solo Festival, the largest solo festival in the world.”

The show’s directed by Jeremy Stockwell, and features a collection of eccentric characters, including an unhinged documentary maker, a pious pigeon fancier and a six year old ‘entertaining’ a captive audience on a long distance flight. But which of Kate’s creations is her favourite? “Hard to say, I like them all but I do have a soft spot for Mary Peachy-Bender, a disgruntled Amish woman with too many children,” she confesses. “She’s quietly subversive and audiences are always intrigued about where her story is leading. So am I!”

Even now, Kate admits to still feeling pre-show nerves, but she’s looking forward to introducing her characters to new audiences in London and New York: “I’m terrified before I step on to the stage; it usually starts with a gulp, gulp, and barf. But once I’m up there and have a receptive audience who connects with the material, then it’s a real pleasure to make people laugh and bring a little sunshine to their day.

“I think the key to good comedy is a matter of taste. Because I do character work I think it’s important to give the audience something recognisable. Someone they can latch on to and care about. You need to make it real, even if the characters seem ridiculous or are left of field.”

So why should we come and check out The Very Perry Show this November? “There’s something or somebody in it for everyone,” says Kate. “The characters include everything from a 5 year old to a 75 year old and everything in between. Even a man! And it’s only £8.50 a ticket…”

Catch The Very Perry Show at the Hen and Chickens from 7th-11th November.

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