Meet the Cast Of It Runs in the Family

Audiences can expect a fun jaunt through St. Andrews Hospital this week, as the cast of It Runs In The Family returns to the stage with another play by master of farce Ray Cooney after the success of Run For Your Wife

It Runs In The Family is presented by the Rotaract Club of Colombo Metro and the Rotary Club of Colombo Cinnamon Gardens. The proceeds from the play will be dedicated to the refurbishment of the closed cancer ward at CCC House estimated to cost in the region of Rs. 1.5 million. 

We dropped by during rehearsal recently and caught up with the cast of It Runs In The Family

Indu Dharmasena, playing the role of Dr. David Mortimore 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

I play Dr. Mortimore which is the main role of the play. He's the one who's getting ready to deliver the Ponsonby Lecture. He's an ambitious guy, selfish and rather full of himself. And on his big day, one of his old girlfriends decides to come after 18 years and 9 months to say that their little liaison resulted in a baby. At that point his wife is also in the hospital who has come for the lecture. My interpretation is I feel his main thing is he doesn't want the wife to find out. Because when he’s actually talking about things he says "Rosemary will make my life utter hell" and "the Ponsonby lecture will go up in a puff of smoke" and "I can certainly kiss goodbye to being the head physician of St. Andrews". He keeps saying things to avoid this baby and the whole thing from coming out because the boy has actually come to the hospital because he wants to find his dad. For 18 years he thought his father was dead, so when the mother has decided to tell him that his father is alive, he wants to meet his father. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

Well, I suppose it's switch on and off. Sometimes there are situations we're playing a role at the Lionel Wendt but we do little skits and stuff for other things. So the roles differ from each other and so you need to switch in and out. 

Rehan Amatunga, playing the role of Dr. Mike Connally 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So, Dr. Connally is described in the play as a bit of a daft bugger. He's very jovial and relaxed about his environment and likes taking a pick out of everyone. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

Actually, this is the first comedy that I've ever been in in theatre. So it was a bit of a thing to get used to, in terms of delivery and timing and aspects like that. I didn't really stress out about it. I suppose being funny is just getting timings right and saying things in a funny manner. 

Sanwada Dharmasena, playing the role of Rosemary Mortimore 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

Well, I am Mrs. Mortimore married to David Mortimore. I think she is an ambitious woman, sort of like Lady Macbeth, but not, I suppose as career driven as her husband. I seem to know my way around the hospital. We've been trying to figure out if my character pokes her finger into hospital matters. She doesn't have a medical background but she wants to get involved with stuff. Later on, you find out that because I ask questions and also because my husband is mortally afraid of me for some reason, that things transpire. Unfortunately in this play, the female roles are very very small and there's only few of us. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

As I was saying, there's not much character development for Mrs Mortimore. We come as what we are and we stay like that throughout. In terms of preparing, a little while ago Indu said Mrs. Mortimore was like Sanwada. I'm not thrilled about this but we'll see what happens. 

Abbasali Rozais, playing the role of Dr. Hubert Bonny 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So Hubert Bonny is one of the doctors at St. Andrews. He's sort of a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, well, not really happy-go-lucky, but sort of an innocent fellow. He gets roped into this whole thing by his friend David who's actually involved in the whole chaos that goes on. He's a nice person so he's actually been convinced to help David out with his problem. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

I don't know if that would be the case. It's just that you figure out what the character is like and going with it. So obviously, he's like a mummy's boy because his mother comes in later on and he kind of melts in front of her. 

Amaya Wijesinghe, playing the role of the hospital matron 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So, I am the matron in this whole hospital affair. I'm the one who's supposed to make sure the operations run smoothly in the hospital and I'm a no-nonsense type of person just because I have to be that person in the administration. But then what happens is I am accidentally injected with 100mg of a sedative. So in the middle of all of this, I am in a slippery slope where I'm falling asleep while certain other catastrophes are happening to me as well. Let's just say it involves falling from heights and losing articles of clothing. So it's a lot of fun to be the matron on this particular day at St. Andrews Hospital. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

No, not really. It’s nice to be able to fit into somebody else's shoes and go about doing all of this because it's basically supposed to be over-the-top comedy in a sense. It's British farce. So it's definitely not going to be anything ordinary. But at the same time it's a lot of fun to take on. 

Jaliya Wijewardena, playing the role of Sir Willoughby Drake 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

I'm playing Sir Willoughby Drake. He's the chairman of the board of governors at St. Andrews Hospital. He's elderly and reserved. He's also the former head surgeon, and is a fussy, tightly wound old gent. He's really concerned about Dr. Mortimore giving this lecture because this lecture is very important to the hospital and he's angling for some funding. He doesn't trust Dr. Mortimore to actually do it properly. So he's on pins, but Dr. Mortimore has other things going on. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

It's a character so I'm just having fun with it. There's no real relation as such. It's a bit different. I like to think I'm not that tightly wound. 

Sulo Perera, playing the role of Jane Tate 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So, I'm playing Jane Tate. She used to be a nurse at St. Andrews Hospital, and she used to work with Dr. Mortimore and Dr. Bonny and the entire lot of them a long time back. What brings her to the hospital is that she's previously had some sort of involvement with Dr. Mortimore, and they've had a son. She's coming to tell Dr. Mortimore about the situation because the son has found out what actually happened and the actual truth about his father and he wants to get in touch with his father, which is what brings me back to St. Andrews Hospital. At the hospital, when I confront Dr. Mortimore, he has a lot of other things going on. Obviously I'm not aware of the lecture that he's supposed to deliver. I basically want him to meet my son for 5 minutes, and get what I want out of that and just be gone. But he's not giving that to me which is why I keep coming back to him and making things very inconvenient for him. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

Basically, the role I'm playing is of a lady who's probably in her late 30s. It's not too difficult to relate, so I can say that it's not too complicated. You can understand where she's coming from. 

Manthika Wijewardena, playing the role of the sister 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

Mine is a minor role in the play, and I don't have much to do. I create a lot of disturbance for Dr. Mortimore and he gets annoyed with me and keeps chasing me off. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

It's nice and it's not a lot of work but it's precise. You have to be on cue. And you have to be on the ball. It's a very fast moving play. This is the first time I'm acting in a public performance, and I'm definitely learning a lot. 

Anuk Dharmasena, playing the role of Leslie 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So I'm playing the character of Leslie, who's Dr. Mortimore's illegitimate son. The way he's described in the play is that he's this punk. That's how Ray Cooney's described him. On his 18th birthday, he finds out that his father is alive and that he actually exists. So he gets intoxicated and that's basically how his character goes. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

The thing with Leslie is that he has a whole range of emotions. So one moment he's laughing, the next moment he's crying, the next moment he's ready to beat someone up. So you have to be on the ball, ready to change character. This is the first time I'm playing this type of character. But it just takes practice. So you have to read the script several times, and get used to it and understand the role. 

George Cooke, playing the role of Police Sergeant Connally 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

So I'm the sergeant, and I'm your typical policeman. I'm a traffic policeman but I'm also coming in with regard to a traffic offence, and then there are so many other things happening here and I'm getting really confused as to what's going on. There's people falling out of windows, people with arms in their slings doing all sorts of things, people rising from the dead, and then dying again. Several weird situations and there's a massive explosion at the end of it. There's a lot of drama involved. It's a small role but it's one that certainly calls for a lot of involvement. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

We did a Ray Cooney play last year, and I was the neighbour in that. That too led to a lot of confusion. In Ray Cooney's plays, a lot of misunderstandings take place and one thing leads to another. The script is really interesting. There's a lot happening back and forth. It's an interesting part. 

Anushan (understudying the role of Bill) 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

I'm a stage manager but I'm also understudying the role of Bill. Bill is crazy. He's in his own world and a patient in the hospital. He's just generally hanging around there and adding his two cents to everything. He sees 2 and 2 and puts it together and gets 100. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

Age wise, I've played older characters before but not something like this. He's completely out there. The things he says are such random stuff coming out of nowhere so it's a bit hard to get to. 

Samurdha Jayasinghe, playing the role of Dr. Bonny's mother 

Tell us about the character you're playing. 

I'm playing Dr. Bonny's mother. She is really old, but she's fast and energetic. She's the one who handles all the Christmas things at the hospital. My son is in a bit of a messy situation but I think it is a good thing. So I'm trying to make this work for him because I've been wanting this for him for a while. 

How did you prepare for your role? Were you able to identify with the character you're playing? 

I've never played an old person before so it's been a bit of a tough thing to figure out how to talk and walk and all of that. So I've been watching a few movies to learn how to do so. 

Catch "It Runs in the Family" at the Lionel Wendt on the 19th, 20th and 21st of May. Tickets are priced at Rs. 3000, Rs. 2800, Rs. 2500, Rs. 1500 and Balcony (unreserved) Rs. 750 are available at the Wendt.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rihaab Mowlana

Foodie • Bona-fide expert on Harry Potter universe • proud Slytherin • Unapologetic know-it-all • Keyboard warrior • Occasionally sarcastic • Incessant retweeter • Self proclaimed funny girl • twitter.com/ReeMowlana

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