Hubble Deep Field image TWITTER/(@konstructivizm)

Where did the concept for Astrid come from?

GR: I knew I wanted to write Astrid, or at least the music for it, but I also knew I wanted a co-writer, so I asked Helena to brunch and basically info-dumped all the conceptual, aesthetic stuff. I had a mood, or a tone, which was already established in my mind at that point; there are two images particularly I associate with that early construction – the Hubble deep field image, which is reminder of just how tiny we as individuals are in relation to space and the uncountable galaxies, and Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ of Earth, which was an inspiration for one of the songs.

HF: Yeah, very early on I knew this was something I definitely wanted to do – I think Georgia already had sketched out some of the music which gave me an idea of the energy, and we both agreed very early that there was going to be no romantic plot.

Any particular reason for that?

HF: I don’t really write romance in general. It’s such a major convention in musical theatre, but there are so many other relationships in life to explore – I don’t feel the need to focus on romance as the driving force of what I write. My writing is usually drawn from personal experience and quite contemplative – so Astrid is much more plot-driven that anything I’ve ever written before.

“There are so many other relationships in life to explore – I don’t feel the need to focus on romance”

GR: The three principle characters in Astrid are three women who have complex relationships with each other, and the emotional focus is there. I can’t off the top of my head name a musical which gives female characters all the emotional bandwidth, and does so by focusing on the relationships with each other, rather than their relationships with external men.

Did you have a particular process for writing it? Or was it quite ad hoc?

GR: It really varied – often Helena would write some lyrics and then I would set them to music, other times I wrote most of the lyrics and then Helena edited them and then I set them. Some songs came before the scenes they exist in were written, others were slotted into a scene where Helena had left a space for them.

HF: We called sat down on Zoom in the summer of 2020 and wrote out a detailed plot, where the songs would go in scenes, which was very helpful for both of us I think.

What kind of things were you looking for in a director when you came to look for them?

HF: I think we always knew that Georgia would MD, but I’m not a director and we knew that we’d need to find one – I think Kitty (Beck, the director) and Jake (Fenton, the AD) have done a brilliant job on this production. They kind of inherited half a production from when it was cancelled in Lent – the previous production team had done a great job as well and they’ve really elevated it.

GR: In terms of cast I’ve been really delighted with the chemistry between our three leads, they’ve been brilliant, so has all the cast. Also, one of the big changes we’ve made since Lent last year was the expansion of the ensemble – who are robots – and they’ve become as much part of the fabric of the show as the named characters. I think we’ve both said they’ve been a real strength of the show, we can’t imagine it without them now.

The Pale Blue Dot TWITTER(@konstructivizm)

In terms of the genre, are either of you big sci-fi fans?

HF: Not outside of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, no. Astrid is partly do with humanity’s relationship to space, but it’s as much to do with our relationship to Earth as well.

GR: My degree is in astrophysics, but I’m not a big sci-fi fan – Astrid isn’t classic sci-fi certainly, but the wonder of space is really important to the characters and their attitudes, as well as the whole feel of the show.

HF: I think it’s a very sci-fi thing to ask – what is beyond the present limits of technology, if we stretch them slightly, how much possibility is there and how much of it is a good idea? Sci-fi can be optimistic as well; Astrid isn’t an ecological dystopia.

So, what’s next for you two after Astrid’s run?


Mountain View

Cabaret, Redmayne and the problem of casting

GR: Catching up on my degree work! But also being on the look out for the next musical theatre opportunity in Cambridge, as I’m here next year as well. We’re both also thinking that Astrid will definitely be a project we take forward together, this is hopefully very much a part of the journey and not the end.

HF: Definitely, I’m excited to see what happens next with Astrid! I’m doing a one-woman show at the moment, which is in London right now and I’m still working on my drag and other writing projects.

I have to ask finally, are there any aliens in Astrid?

HF & GR: It doesn’t need aliens, it’s essentially about human relationships. So no – no aliens!