INTERVIEW: James Robinson, This Little Life of Mine actor

Written by: Sophie Taylor

You might recognise James Robinson from Braveheart. No? Well you obviously don’t have a good eye for faces. He played Mel Gibson’s character as a child. I know! Tres exciting. James is currently in rehearsals for a brand new British musical about to start at Park Theatre. This Little Life of Mine is a contemporary fairytale that tells the story of the millennial, warts and all, as they struggle to live up to the happy picture of ourselves that we all share on social media.

These snapshots we post on social media, these happy moments: it’s in between these moments that real life happens. That’s what we want to show.
North Four, North London magazine, James Robinson, actor, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

We chatted with an enthusiastic and passionate James about false selfies, Cold Feet and swinging London. Literally, swingers in London. Ooh er missus.

How are rehearsals going?

“The weeks are slipping away! It’s a fantastic show and there’s a great team round us. We are going to view the set soon and then we’ll really see it coming together. The Park Theatre is a perfect space for a contemporary show in London as this is one of London’s newest pieces of theatre essentially. It’s quite easy to be transported into the story as all the elements of the show are around the Theatre in Finsbury Park, it’s a vibrant place. We’re really pleased with the setting.”

I like the references to the property boom and Zone 2. Are you based in London yourself?

“Yes I’ve lived here for twelve years. I studied as an actor down here, it’s definitely the place to be: my home away from home now. I’m Scottish and I love London. The show reflects a lot that’s going on in the city now with rising house prices and young professionals being replaced by other buyers.”

Yes it’s obviously a story we can all relate to in some way. Would you say your character is like you?

“As an actor you tend to get your chance to do the classics and scripts that are separate form your life. But when this came around it felt like something very close to my own reality. I’m in my early 30’s and looking at where my friends are in their lives and my girlfriend, there are lots of crossovers with my own reality and a lot of stuff in the script I can relate to. It was one of the main draws of doing the show. It’s literally a fairytale for the modern generation.”

We’re championing love.

How is it being a part of a brand new British musical drama?

“It feels very relevant, fresh and new.

North Four, North London magazine, James Robinson, actor, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

That’s the thing with the music, it brings an other worldliness to the scene. Sometimes with musicals the music is separate from what’s happening on stage. But Charlie Round-Turner’s score is fantastic, the music melts into the scenes and it all compliments each other. It has something for anyone within this generation who are trying for babies, trying to buy a house etc. It feels very relatable and modern and there’s definitely a gap in the market for that. Film utilises the elements of romantic drama and the core of this show is love, whether it’s love of family, of life, of your significant other. I think that’s something deeper that needs to happen more, especially in new plays. We’re championing love.”

I loved the preview, there’s some great songs. I’m interested to see where the story goes

“Well you’re used to these sweeping, epic tales but actually in the modern day it’s not quite like that. I’ve got friends online I keep in touch with from Scotland online, but no-one puts the bad stuff up on social media!

North Four, North London magazine, James Robinson, actor, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park
People don’t know you’ve had an argument 20 mins before a lovely photo.

Everyone always seems so happy but it’s the film version of their lives. That’s what we wanted to capture in the show. Selfies are a careful snapshot of happy moments: these moments where you find out you’re pregnant, you’re on holiday, you’ve found your first flat. But in between these moments real life happens. People don’t know you’ve had an argument 20 mins before a lovely photo. You think, oh they’re travelling the world and then you bump into them a week later and they say it was rubbish, it was one of the worst trips I’ve ever had. So we’re getting to the nitty gritty of life, to those moments where actually you missed that train to the job interview or your mum’s angry you didn’t visit her on Mothers Day. It’s real life. The songs are beautiful and accentuate the happy times, but we’re also giving you the flip side. There are hard hitting moments in it which is where the joy comes from – without the lows you can’t experience the highs.”

North Four, North London magazine, James Robinson, actor, Park Theatre, Finsbury Park

It reminds me of Cold Feet

“I love that show yes, there are relatable elements in both. It was like the Friends of Britain without the shine. Friends was light and happy with a few arguments, whereas in Cold Feet there are much grittier, hard times and that’s what we’re trying to convey with Little Life. I genuinely believe there’s a lot to enjoy within the show and you don’t have to be within the age range to enjoy it. My parents are coming and they can’t wait. You can take your mind off your own problems for the night, which is what storytelling should be – an opportunity to disappear into someone else’s life and leave your problems at the door.”

You obviously get on well as a cast and a company which was lovely to see.

“The whole team are great, they’re all so talented. Michael Yale is a huge multi-tasker having written, produced and directed the show! He may as well be in it. As it’s Stage Traffics first production it’s an exciting place to be. Eilene Davidson is a fantastic producer working with Michael too. There’s a lovely buzz about the place getting the company going with a bang. The Park Theatre have been great!”

Have you seen the set yet?

“We’ve just seen set models so far, we can’t wait to see it soon. It’s an interchangeable set with a coffee shop, restaurant, gym and flat. It’s very clever and chameleon-esque the way the set moves so simply from one set to the next. As an actor it’s always an exciting day to see where you’re going to be living for the next month or so. I can guarantee it’s nicer than my flat in Canada Water.”

I’ve found myself singing Just One More down the pub since the preview..

“That’s our new anthem! It’s definitely a catchy score, the songs live with you afterwards. The swinger song was an eye opener for me I have to say. Researching that was fun. Wait, I don’t mean personally!”

Yeah, yeah. Whatever James you big deviant. We leave him to have more fun rehearsing while we have a more discerning scroll through our Facebook feed and have a rewatch of Braveheart.

This Little Life of Mine is playing at The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park until 29th Oct 2016 with previews on the 4th Oct 2016. Book your ticket here 

Photos by Charlie Round-Turner

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