Serena Flynn discovered that her boyfriend was cheating on her with webcam girls. They broke up and Prune was born. A grotesque, anarchic on-stage alter ego that allows her to parody gender performance and ridicule her own heartbreak through bouffon. Acerbic and raw, Prune is wild and terrifying. Serena on the other hand? We decided to talk to her and find out.
Brighton audiences are incredible - generous, open-minded and up for anything
At what point did you think your own heartbreak was good inspiration for a show?
Actually at the time I thought it was a probably a terrible idea, but it was something I felt I had to make. The show’s been through loads of phases of development though and started out as something much more earnest. For an early version of the show I used verbatim recordings of me and my friend interviewing my ex about why we broke up. The show ended with my friend asking "was Serena enough?" There was this long, pregnant pause before he finally just said "no". I thought it was going to be this big sympathetic moment but the entire audience fell about laughing. I learnt a lot about the relationship between tension and humour in that moment and I think that was the moment I decided to make a comedy about my heartbreak.
When performing your show, how much do you feel as though you are performing a character?
I am performing as Prune who is definitely a character, she’s pretty grotesque but she’s also fragile. There are bits of me in her, bits that I would never normally be brave enough to reveal in public. Unless I’ve had a lot of gin.
You’re Lecoq trained – what does being a bouffon mean to your performance?
Despite spending two years terrified and mute (my French is totally merde) the training at Lecoq, particularly in bouffon, unleashed something in me. The bouffon's role is to mock society, and push whatever they are mocking to its absolute extreme. It’s physically really exhausting, especially wearing a padded ‘body’ but it’s also liberating and exciting to perform. I leave a lot of space for improvisation and audience interaction in the show so it’s different every night.
Prune is based around your ex cheating on you with webcam girls. How do you think the internet has affected our relationships?
That’s a huge question! Perhaps controversially, I don’t actually believe the internet is affecting our relationships in as radical ways as people fear. I don’t think our human needs or desires have been changed by the internet, I just think that the internet means that they’re now being performed and explored in different ways. Online interactions such as webcam sites have forced us to redefine infidelity and what ‘counts’ as cheating. A guy in a bar once tried to tell me that I hadn’t been cheated on because my partner hadn’t touched anyone, but I absolutely felt that he had been unfaithful.
Who is your comedic hero?
My dad's a comedy fan and brought me up with Blackadder, Red Dwarf and Monty Python, I loved them all and I think they've all influenced me but I also struggled to see myself in them; comedy felt like a boys game. At a certain point I sought out female comedic voices and I love French and Saunders, Victoria Wood and Sue White in Green Wing. Silly women are my absolute favourite.
What are you looking forward to most in Brighton?
I was a student in Brighton so pulling into Brighton station in the sunshine always feels like coming home. Brighton audiences are incredible - generous, open-minded and up for anything so I'm really excited to share the madness of Prune with them.
Prune is liberated from social restrictions – what unspoken social rule do you wish never existed?
I wish adults could all just play with each other a bit more and not do boring small talk that nobody really wants to do. I either want to get stuck in talking about something really meaningful or play around like a fool.