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Mothers and daughters

Ramona Depares interviews Kate DeCesare ahead of her role in Masquerade’s production of The Memory of Water.

Kate DeCesare, Coryse Borg, Pia Zammit and Nadia Vella.

Kate DeCesare, Coryse Borg, Pia Zammit and Nadia Vella.

What attracted you to Memory of Water?

I love a good black comedy so that was the first thing. I only realised later that mine is the least funny character of the lot – oops. There is witty dialogue, interesting characters and a lot of energy in the script as well as a poignant underlying theme. And lastly, I was keen on working with Masquerade again, with the splendid Stephen Oliver as director.

What is it that makes this play funny, despite being so poignant?

The dialogue is very funny and clever. The distinct and different characters of the cast who play off each other so well make you giggle, even though you sometimes feel like you shouldn’t.

You play the role of Vi – the mother. What can you tell us about her character?

She’s cold, sharp, self-centred and a seemingly unmaternal mother. In her day, she was glamorous but became bitter and cynical. In contrast, her revelations of what it was like for her to deteriorate mentally as she grew older portrays a fragile and rather tragic figure too.

Do you see any similarities between Vi and yourself in real life?

None at all!  She’s far too cold and cynical, which made the role all the more challenging, as I think I’m generally quite... nice! The one similarity is that we both have daughters, but unlike Vi, I rather like mine.

What do you like most about this role?

It’s pushed me out of my comedic comfort zone, which is a challenge for me, and I do like a challenge. I’m also enjoying drawing character traits out of the less pleasant people I’ve encoutered throughout life, and amalgamating them all to conjure up this character.

What are the biggest challenges in making her come to life on stage?

Keeping a straight face while delivering vitriol.

The script was written almost 20 years ago. Do you think its themes remain relevant today, and how?

Completely.  It’s actually not obvious that this isn’t a script written in this day and age.

It’s relevant because it highlights the reality that family relationships are often strained and difficult and ironically, how a tragic event like a family funeral can bring people together. It also demonstrates how different our perceptions and interpretations can be of the same experiences.

The play relies a lot on the chemistry between Vi and her daughters – is this your first time working with any of the rest of the cast?

I’ve worked with Pia Zammit and Coryse Borg (first time going back all the way to 1994!), as well as Stefan Farrugia, before and we all get along swimmingly, which is always a plus. Having said that, with the relationship my character has with theirs, it might even have been better if we didn’t like each other at all.

How is the stage chemistry between you all working?

Great, everyone really gets on and there are plenty of laughs. It’s lovely when you look foward to rehearsals in the evening despite being knackered after a day of work. They’re a lovely bunch.

The Memory of Water takes place on February 16, 17, 24 and 25 at Mspace in Msida. Tickets are available online.

http://www.masquerademalta.com/

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