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Annabel Marlow - …Is This Okay? Interview

Annabel Marlow was just 18 years old when she auditioned for a small new little musical that was heading to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017. So far so normal, except she played the role of Katherine Howard and the little musical went and got a huge amount of buzz very very quickly
From SIX (Edinburgh Fringe original cast), Public
(Vaults, Edinburgh Fringe) and several perfect pictures (Instagram) Annabel Marlow makes her solo comedy debut.
In … is this okay ?? Audiences will be invited to enjoy a comedy gig of original music, perfect singing (not even kidding), and absolute vibes.
Imagine that you’ve just wandered into Annabel’s uni room to hang out and she’s said “hey can I play you these new songs?”. And you say “Sure ok” and she says “Ok great, let me know what you think”.  And she plays some musical comedy songs, and she also plays some original music-not-comedy songs. Some are pop songs, some are bluesy, some are more story-telly and theatrical. And you tell her they’re really good. Because they’re really good.

Photo by Isaac Qureshi

Ahead of the Fringe I caught up with Annabel to discuss the show.

How do you reflect on the experience of being part of the original cast of Six? 
I think of my time in Edinburgh in 2017 and I remember how much fun I had performing. I’d never performed a show of that standard for that amount of time, with people who were all older than me and so smart and talented. It was overwhelming! But being able to get up every night and make people laugh and sing and dance, and move people. It was the best feeling ever.
But, to be honest, it was really difficult to comprehend that the show we did in Edinburgh was now on the West End and on cruises going all over the world, and on the radio, and on Jimmy Fallon. It’s too massive to get your head around. Especially in moments when I’m hanging out with my brother, going for a drink, and walking under this massive ‘Six’ sign on The Strand and it’s a bit like, “Nah, that’s that’s not to do with you. That would be a bit mental if it was cause that’s… wow. Anyway, beer!?
When you were part of the show did you foresee the success it’s gone on to have? 
I knew it was going to be successful. You can tell, when you’ve been rehearsing something you love, and then finally you get to show people and can see their reactions, it’s a really big moment. Even before Edinburgh, I remember Toby explaining the concept and talking/singing through the opening number at home one day, months before they knew they were taking it to Edinburgh or anything like that, and I was imagining it in my head and I remember thinking, “Wow. I want everyone to know about this.But there was an energy among the audience, especially once the word got around more and people were expecting something great, and had heard about it. I remember when our director said we did not have to flyer so much everyday because we were selling out. I remember people coming up to us in the street asking for pictures. It was such a golden time!
How did your success with Six change you as a performer? 
Ooh, I’ve never thought about this before. I think in terms of stamina doing the actual show and rehearsing longer days, it was a bit of a shock to little old me. Also, thinking about it now, it was my first time putting myself into a role. Especially because the humour is just so how me and Toby speak and what we find funny, so I really felt like I could create this character that I enjoyed doing, found funny, and that I know would make Toby laugh. 
I’d just finished school when I did Six, and then I did a Foundation course in acting at LAMDA. I remember during LAMDA, we had a few more performances of Six to do in Cambridge, and I told my year group about it and everyone said they couldn’t come because it was too far away. A couple years later they were all like, “Oh damn. That was Six? Ok, yeah, we should have come.” 

Photo by Isaac Qureshi

After the experience of Six, you returned to drama school and now you making your Edinburgh Fringe solo debut, can you tell me a little bit about the show? 
After I graduated from Leeds Uni (Luv u, Leeds. Miss ueveryday), I then did an Acting MA at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, and that’s when the show came about, but I didn’t realise at the time. I always knew I wanted to take something to Edinburgh that was funny and filled with music, but I didn’t know what plot I was going to do or anything like that. Then quite near the start of my MAmy friend Alice and I organised an event where she’d sell her art, and I’d do a live gig of all my music. It was the first time I’d performed basically all the songs I’d written (yes, there were three intervals and yes,everyone was on board with that…kinda). And because it was a room of family and friends, and it was a mixture of pop songs and comedy songs, there was a casual, sometimes chaotic feel to it. 
I’d also done quite a few comedy gigs leading up to the courseand throughout the year at Central, and I noticed that people just kind of responded to what I was doing, and I didn’t need a plot or a character. So my show it essentially that first gig (but 1/3 of the length). An hour of us hanging out, me sharing some stories with you, and singing pretty flawlessly, can’t lie.
How do you approach your song writing? 
I have a few different ways, really. Sometimes I’ve got a really clear idea and loads to say, for example my song Fallen Girl that I wrote at LAMDA, which is inspired by the Magdalene sisters. For a song like that, I find the vibe I want on the instrument I want and press record on my phone and kind of improvise lyrics and melodies, and then eventually slow down and put it all together more coherently, improve on the chords, figure out where I want it to go. I do that one for comedy songs mostly, too. 
Other times I essentially write a poem on my phone, and then find a melody that fits with the vibe. Or, I come up with a tune in my head, find it on the keyboard, and then put lyrics to it. The thing I’m trying to improve on is, I write a whole song really quickly, so I’ve been trying recently to spend more time, and improving on bits that make be cringe or aren’t the best rather than settling because it ‘kind of works.’ 
How much of your own life and experiences ends up in your music? 
Well, because I had no love life and nothing awful had really happened to me when I first wrote songs at school, I wrote about characters I was studying (slay), or my friends. I wrote about Streetcar Named Desire with a song called ‘The Grey Boy’, I wrote a song called ‘Emilia Led Him’ which was about Emilia from Othello. And then I wrote songs about boys later on at school when I got a bit older. And then at Uni, again I wrote about my friends, relationships, or songs based on conversations with friends that inspired me. It wrote a LOT of songs about a big break up/relationship I had at Uni.
I also just write songs that I think I’d enjoy listening to. And then I write things that are all from my imagination too. But my favourite ones to perform are the ones that reveal something about me.
What do you want an audience to take away from seeing the show? 
I want them to feel they’ve gotten to know me a bit. I want them to have some of the songs stuck in their heads. I want them to have a conversation with me or their mates that they wouldn’t have otherwise had if they hadn’t seen my show. I sing and talk about some topics that I really feel strongly about, and I hope it makes the audience feel and think too. I also want them to laugh and relate and love their friends even more.
Can you describe the show in 3 words? 
Come hang out!
Annabel Marlow will perform is this okay…?? At the Edinburgh Festival at 8.30pm in Pleasance Courtyard (Attic) from 2nd – 27th August (Not 16th). To book, visit

Photo by Isaac Qureshi

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