Sea Fret: Lucy Carless Treads Water and the Boards

Written by: Sophie Taylor

You might recognise Lucy Carless from the award winning TV series Humans where she played the computer hacking genius daughter, Mattie. Her role as Ruby in a new play coming to the Old Red Lion Theatre, is equally as complex.

Ruby’s actions are the things we all wish we were capable of.

Playwright Tallulah Brown’s Sea Fret is a paean to her native Suffolk coastline, written with support from the Peggy Ramsay Foundation.

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As a Nottingham native, we wonder how Lucy is finding North London as we discuss chips by the sea, wanting to be Doctor Who and navigating work and play.

“Mattie was great to play; complex and interesting and with a sassy streak that was a fun to bring to life. As was her hacking ability, it was difficult to get in a headspace of understanding something that in reality my brain really can’t compute but I loved the way she saw everything as a puzzle, that was great to play.

Ruby in Sea Fret is equally interesting and challenging. She is a character full of heart, passion and fire and is so full of complexities, it’s been great unlocking some of her deeper layers and understanding her as a person. It’s challenging playing someone quite as outrageous as she is at some points but of course a lot of fun as I feel her actions are the sorts of things we all wish we were capable of sometimes.”

Within Sea Fret, rising sea levels threaten the ground beneath their house, but Lucy’s character Ruby just wants one final blow out before her best mate Lucy leaves for Uni.

With the local community in favour of letting nature take its course, Ruby must choose between following Lucy inland or stay and help her father hold back the tide. Sea Fret is about the erosion of rocks and of relationships. But what first drew Lucy to the script?

This is our land Ruby. We’ve got to keep hold of it. We’ve got to fight for it.
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“The relationship and playful dialogue between the two girls as well as the concept and surrounding story behind where the story is based, initially attracted me. This is an issue affecting real people everyday and the imposing threat of the environment was carefully incorporated into the script in a way that was subtle and not at all pushy. As I discovered more I connected with the way the story reflects the struggles of growing up and identity and I imagine the audience will be able to see parts of themselves within at least one of the characters if not all.”

I’d always been a bit of a drama queen and originally wanted to be Doctor Who.

Have you worked with any members of the cast before?

“No, it was the first time meeting on our first day of rehearsals, but everyone has been lovely and we all felt quite familiar with each other very quickly.”

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After scoring a whopping 12 GCSE’s, Lucy left her studies when she got the part in Humans. Although difficult to balance college and work, Lucy managed to finish her A Levels during the filming of the second series. “It was pretty tough to balance them, but both my college and the Humans team were very helpful with working around each other.”

But then Lucy is no stranger to the acting world, having joined Nottingham based, BAFTA- winning organisation The Television Workshop at just 13.

It’s the most wonderful thing in my life.

“I’d always been a bit of a drama queen and originally wanted to be Doctor Who or an assistant. I wanted it as a career after playing Dorothy in the Year 6 adaptation of The Wizard of Oz. I auditioned for Workshop a few years later, I saw it as a way in and a form of indirect training but didn’t realise the gravitas of it all until I was in.

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It’s the most wonderful thing in my life, it helps to build character in more ways than one and form close friendships. As well as continuing to provide incredible opportunities for actors across the County.”

Lucys first TV break was with John Simm and David Threlfall in hit ITV thriller Code Of A Killer.

“I worked with David Threlfall but only briefly. He was very nice. The direction by James Strong was fantastic, as he gave us the opportunity to improvise during some of the emotional scenes and its key to feel freedom particularly with tough scenes.”

There is always something going on and the anonymity and hustle and bustle is exciting.

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Now Lucy is working more and more in London, we wonder how she’s finding the difference between Nottingham and the capital.

“The obvious difference would be that London is stupendously busy and big in comparison! There is always something going on and the anonymity and hustle and bustle is exciting. However Nottingham’s cultural opportunities are constantly increasing and improving, there are some wonderful events and creative things to do on a day to day basis. It’s a great place to have lived and grown up and of course is home to The Television Workshop. I big Nottingham up so much I imagine people are probably sick of hearing me singing its praises!”

A typical day for Lucy now consists of mostly rehearsals and attempting to fit in a busy social life afterwards.

“It’s mostly rehearsals all day and then either a film or going to the theatre in the evening if I can hack it, it’s quite tiring days at the moment!

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I will definitely try and push through the tired and get to the theatre more often to make the most of what’s on offer here. Despite this though today happens to be an exception as to be on my way to the coast to see where the story is set. I want to get a feel of the area we are based in but also paddle while eating chips and a stick of rock!”

Ah I just got a wave of nervous excitement!

We can’t wait to see Sea Fret on press night. How are rehearsals going?

“Ah I just got a wave of nervous excitement! Yes, very well thanks. As its my first experience of professional theatre I’m learning something new everyday which feels amazing.

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Ita O’Brien, an incredible movement director that I worked with a little on Humans, came in to do some movement work with us. It was a great way to connect with and understand our characters as well as a work out. So everyday I discover something new and sweat a little bit more!”

Is there any particular moment in the show you enjoy most? What should we look out for?

“All the scenes with Georgia, who plays Lucy are fun to play. Full of energy and playful spark. Really looking forward to the set, you should get a real sense of the seaside when you’re there and feel on the precipice with us. Very excited to see what people think and to get it in the space.”

Sea Fret Written by Tallulah Brown | Directed by Carla Kingham

At The Old Red Lion Theatre from 28th March – 22nd April

£15, £12.50 conc, matinees and previews £12 | | 0844 412 4307

Photos c/o AFP Photography 

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