OffWestEnd talks to Lizzy Watts who is appearing in The False Servant at The Orange Tree Theatre, playing until 23 July

Lizzy Watts has returned to the Orange Tree to play The Chevalier in Martin Crimp’s translation of Pierre Marivaux’s The False Servant. She previously performed at the OT in 2018 in Crimp’s Dealing with Clair.  Other theatre credits include Either (Hampstead Theatre), Hedda Gabler (Nation Theatre UK tour), Strife (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Angry Brigade (Bush Theatre), God of Chaos, Merit (Theatre Royal Plymouth), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe international tour), Blink (Soho Theatre), Twelfth Night (Filter Theatre), Wasted (Roundhouse Theatre), and Artefacts (Bush Theatre).


What first attracted you to the theatre?
Initially I think it was the social element. I did work experience when I was 14 at the Orange Tree. (It was my local theatre growing up so very special to get to work here now.) They were in rehearsals for the musical The Rink which I got to sit in on for two weeks. It was the first time I’d been around a professional company and loved just how collaborative and wonderful it was. They were all having so much fun. I remember they took me for their cast meal and it blew my tiny mind. I wanted to be a part of something like that.

Obviously in reality it’s not all meals and fun, but meals and fun have played a major role in The False Servant experience which makes me very happy.

If you could pick any one person or theatre company to work with on your next project, who/which would it be?
It would be very cool to be a part of the Jamie Lloyd Company wouldn’t it. That would be nice. I’d also really love to work at The Kiln. And would work with ETT again in a heartbeat. Have you seen their new programme? It looks so good. Plus they have the loveliest team there. Also, can I play Leslie Manville’s daughter in something if she has time please?

What is your opinion of Off West End theatre, in general?
I think for a long time when you went to a theatre you sort of knew what you were going to get. Theatres had programming that you expected from that theatre. But recently I think something has been shifting and that is a wonderful thing.

I love going to see theatre that surprises me and/or teaches me something, and I feel like I’ve been getting that a lot recently. Two shows that spring to mind are “Daddy” at The Almeida, which I thought was bonkers and so unexpected and I got a real thrill out of it, and An Unfinished Man at The Yard which I found totally captivating and about something I knew nothing about before going in. Hopefully this is a move towards even more variety, choice and representation within Off West End theatre.

What was the most inspiring performance you have ever seen? Why?
This is a hard one. There’s lots to choose from! Most recently it would have to be Cruise that Jack Holden wrote and starred in. Totally inspiring to see an actor create something from scratch like that. It was so accomplished.

Paapa Essiedu in A Number at The Old Vic, Billie Piper in Yerma at The Young Vic, and Helen McCrory in Medea at The National have all stayed with me and I think always will.

I saw Michael Gambon in The Caretaker when I was a teenager, and it was a definite moment of ‘I want to do what he’s doing when I grow up’.

What piece of work are you the most proud of?
If I had to choose just one It would probably be a beautiful Mike Bartlett play called Artefacts that I did at The Bush. I was so proud of that show and loved the entire process. It was one of those dreamy jobs with amazing people, and it was the gateway to meeting lots of other really wonderful people, who have become dear friends to this day.

What things in your personal life do you draw from when you perform?
Honestly, not very much! I like to keep it as separate as possible. Life experiences creep in when you’re researching a play, of course. But, on the whole, when performing I like to keep my personal experiences out of the room.

Musical, comedy or drama – what’s your preference to watch?
Sorry, all of them! Musicals I love watching because I know I could never be in one, so it’s just pure joy and spectacle. Comedy, if a play can make you genuinely laugh then there is nothing quite like it. Drama I love for beautiful dialogue and watching relationships blossom between characters.

Can you tell our readers about what you’re doing now/next?

I’ve got a play coming up in the autumn which I’m really excited about and should be announced soon.