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Matthew Greenhough - The Death of Molly Miller Interview

The Death of Molly Miller is a new play from Wound Up Theatre founders; writer Matthew Greenhough and director Jonny Kelly. Celebrated for their ability to showcase and discuss seismic issues through thought provoking, funny and bold pieces of theatre, the long-term collaborators continue to make a name for themselves as voices for the disenfranchised, socially alienated and economically disadvantaged young people in the UK.

The Death of Molly Miller is an intense and pitch black comedy-drama exploring inequality, social media fame, gambling addiction and Wagamamas. In this witty, intense duologue we meet Tommy who at 20s-year-old is working class, socio-economically alienented and blighted by an addiction to online gambling with a significant debt owed to a dangerous loan shark.
Tommy’s ill thought-through solution - to burgle local successful social media influencer Molly Miller - quickly spirals into an unplanned hostage situation as the stakes rise for this working-class anti-hero and his modern-day internet celebrity captive.

Writer Matthew Greenhough has recently broken through as a fresh voice in both Radio and TV. A former member of the BBC Drama Room, his audio version of ‘The Death of Molly Miller’ will be his first official broadcast credit premiering on BBC R4 in July, before the live version hits the Edinburgh Fringe.

Ahead of the Edinburgh Fringe I spoke with Matthew about the piece.

What inspired you to write The Death of Molly Miller?  
Last year, or the year before, some lass I’d never heard of, who was apparently famous for prancing around in a thongedbikini on ITV2, said on a podcast, "BeyoncĂ© has the same 24 hours in the day that we do", and people went spare at her for it. The internet seemed to want to string her up from a lamppost and spill her guttiwuts on the pavement like she was some latter-day Mussolini. I lapped it up, and found the whole thing hilarious  from the Thatcher-lite statement made by the clothes hanger with teeth, to the corrosive outrage of people who thought she was Maggie reborn.
A few months later, I saw a Vice magazine thingy about influencers' flats being targeted by thieves and my immediate reaction to that was to cheer on the thieves. Then I stopped for a second and realised that neither of my impulses in reacting to influencers' misfortunes was particularly… noble. I went back and listened to the whole of that podcast where that lass had turned the world against her. She was as alienated and unmoored by the influencer economy as everyone else, and not a bad person, just someone who’d chased and achieved what our culture deems to be success. So then I created a totally fictional character to explore all this stuff.
Did you have to do any research whilst you were writing the production?
Well, I took a deep dive into British influencer culture, which is a bleak place to wallow. But the most shocking bit of research came in developing the counterpoint to my influencer character, Tommy – the lad what accidentally takes Molly hostage. I needed them both to be victims, so he needed to be robbing her under duress. I decided that should be because of gambling debt, at first, just as a plot device, but then I started looking into gambling addicts, the lawless world of gambling apps, and the shameless way they exploit problem gamblers. I saw the symbiotic relationship the social media apps have with gambling apps – how they basically learn from each other how to keep users from getting off them – and also that there’s basically f**k all effective regulation to stop the predatory companies that do this stuff from doing it. It’s like ifsmack dealers had carte blanche from society to hook children on black tar heroin at the school gates.
The play is a lot more upbeat than the last few sentences…
Photo by Aimee Morley

Did you combine any of that research with your own personal experience?  
I’ve never been an influencer, and I’ve never robbed houses, but unfortunately, no matter, hard you try, you can never get away from yourself (and I’ve tried), so of course there’s a bit of me in there. There’s also a bit of my sisters in there. I love em now, but we used to bicker like Beatrice and Benedick when we were nippers. Tommy and Molly bicker, so I think the dynamic is a wee bit autobiographical. Never tied em up though… Me Mum’d knock me block off.
The piece is also running as an audio drama on Radio 4 this summer, how did you approach both crafting an audio and a stage version? 
Well, it was originally proposed as an audio drama, and came out of dialogues with the amazing BBC Radio Drama Producer Kirsty Williams. She’d read a previous Fringe show of mine, ‘Bismillah! An ISIS Tragicomedy’ and wanted me to create something similar for the radio, and all that influencer inspo was already swimmin’ about me noggin. The R4 gig was my first broadcast commission, so while Bismillah! had been quite active, despite it similarly being a show about hostage taking (MM is kind of a spiritual sequel…) the radio edition was more led by dialogue than action. The rewrite for the stage changed that, while also, as the stage version could be longer, let the story breathe a bit. It also meant we could take the PG rating away and add some world-class profanity, which has been Wound Up’s bread and butter for years!
What do you want an audience member to take away from seeing the show? 
We want them to leave the theatre being fundamentally changed at a molecular level. Tastes and colours will be experienced differently and nothing will ever be the same for our audiences ever again. Anything less than this, we will consider the show a failure… 
Nah, we just hope the audience leaves having had a great time. That’s the main point, innit? If it makes them think a bit differently about things as well, then that’s a bonus.
What performances/shows have inspired you? 
Boring, self-important, upper-middle-class theatre – the kind that makes up the majority of cultural programming in the UK. Probably my biggest inspiration, but for all the wrong reasons. 
Can you describe the show in 3 words?
Probably - quite - good…
The Death of Molly Miller will be performed at the Edinburgh Festival at 6.30pm in Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 3rd– 26th August. To book, visit

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