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Warren Rusher and Tarik Badwan - The Best Pints - Interview

 'What is the best pint you've ever had?' that is the question posed by FishMail Productions' comedy play The Best Pints. 

The play written by Jack Gallagher and directed by Kay Dent will play at The Hope Theatre in Islington, London on the 22nd, 23rd, 29th and 30th of January with tickets on sale now.

The comedy set in Northern Ireland follows three male best friends as they tell one another stories of parenthood, love, loss, addiction and the Yakuza (yes, THAT Yakuza). The cast includes Warren Rusher as Gerry, Tarik Badwan as David and Matthew Blaney as Steve. 

Ahead of the run I spoke to Warren and Tarik about the show.

Can you tell me about the show in your own words?
Tarik: This show is a bit of an onion in terms of layers. On the surface it’s a bunch of blokes sat in a pub telling stories over a few pints but the themes that come out of those stories might surprise you. We talk about grief in various forms, parenthood, coming of age, addiction, divorce; and of course getting in a fistfight with an ostrich.
Warren: I’ve been describing it as an Irish comedy with heart.
What attracted you to the roles?
Tarik: At first I saw it as a chance to play a character I wouldn’t normally be cast as. I’m half English, half Palestinian so it’s pretty rare I’d get to play anyone Irish. But once we began rehearsing I started to become attached to the characters Warren and Matt were bringing to life, and the depth of the play, the journey it goes on in a relatively short period of time really drew me in.

Warren: I did a short comedy play written by Niall as part of a response writing event at Theatre 503 and met Jack after the show. When they looked to do a performance of Jack's 'The Best Pints' and Jack asked me, I said yes. Gerry is a great character and a chance for me to play someone who is very caring. I mostly get cast as man with gun (or man with pitchfork) types of roles on camera, and manipulative or farcical characters on stage. So this is a great opportunity to play someone who has a world view closer to mine. So I jumped at the chance.

How have you gone about gelling together when you’re set to play best mates?
Tarik: It wasn’t something we ever had to consider. There was a time recently we were all sat around talking and Matt started telling this elaborate story about something that happened to him. I was struck by how similar our reality was to the play at that point. We were just sitting, bantering, sharing war stories from the acting world and it was essentially the same dynamic we were creating on stage.

Warren: It has been really easy to be honest. I've been doing this for a long time so it's not hard to put your head down and work with whoever is in the cast, but with Tarik and Matthew it has been incredibly easy. They are great lads and great actors, and we all love the material, so by making sure we honour Jack's words it has led to a singular focus, which is fantastic. Kay has made it a smooth process as well, looking at the relationships between characters and their journeys and facilitating the exploration between us.

How do you prepare for this sort of show and the roles?
Tarik: Given that I’m not native Irish I had to do a lot of a work on the accent. The rest of the cast are Irish so I was very aware of how easily I could stick out. We also have to play multiple characters at different points during the play, so preparation went in to making sure our various roles have clear distinctions and we’re able to switch in and out of them quickly. 

Warren: Umm... not really any difference from how I prepare from any other types of role/show. Get a handle on the character, find out what they are doing with each line/beat and then explore it in rehearsal. Just making sure my head is in the right space to be open and ready to react to whatever comes from Tarik and Matthew.

Tarik Badwan
Warren Rusher

Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Tarik: Live, love, laugh. No don’t print that
Warren: Funny, emotional, real
In a show about ‘The Best Pints’, do you guys have your own favourite drink?
Tarik: I have to confess I like a cocktail. Gerry, Steve and David would not approve. I do like a Baileys though
Warren: I do love an IPA (not one of Gerry's favourites) and I'm partial to a good Irish whiskey.
What does theatre mean to you?
Tarik: Theatre is really the actors playground. In film you’re constantly working under a director and crew, but onstage, once the curtain goes up it’s just you and the audience. What happens happens  

Warren: That's a surprisingly difficult question to think on. I love theatre, the immediacy, the vibrancy, the ensemble nature of it all.

Why should anyone come and see ‘The Best Pints’?
Tarik: Well if you like going to the pub for a pint It’s a play about pints set in a pub being performed in a pub where pints are being sold.
Warren: Because it's brilliant... and it might make you cry. It'll definitely make you laugh.

The Best Pints plays at The Hope Theatre in Islington, London on the 22nd, 23rd, 29th and 30th of January with tickets on sale now.

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