Catriona Knox: Post-boom bloom
By Caro Moses | Published on Wednesday 20 August 2014
You, like us, may have first come across the super-talented Catriona Knox as one third of the rather successful sketch troupe the Boom Jennies. But she is back at the Fringe this year with an all new solo show, which garnered high praise from our reviewer, who praised her “joyful set” and “perfectly pitched creations”.
And Knox is keeping pretty busy this Festival, also appearing in a theatre piece alongside fellow comedy types Simon Munnery and Thom Tuck. We’ve heard lots of good things about Knox over the years, and felt it was high time we hurled a smattering of questions her way.
CM: Tell us about your show this year. What kind of characters can we expect?
CK: Ridiculous, high-octane, very very silly ones. This show’s definitely the most riotous one I’ve done, which is saying something, seeing as last year I made an audience member do an entire French oral and a ballroom dance. One of my characters this year is Nick Clegg, which is fun. Trapped people full of desperation and self-loathing are always fun to play.
CM: Does each new show have all new characters or do you bring old favourites back?
CK: I always try to make the show all new, despite the fact that my mum constantly implores me to resurrect a character I did back when God was a foetus. “I don’t want to do that one Mum, it’s from ten years ago”, “well why not just do it as an encore?” “I probably won’t Mum”.
CM: Do you have a favourite character this year?
CK: The mad evangelical preacher Gaston Paul. He’s joyful. Sort of without meaning to I’ve created more male characters than female ones this year, which is ever so political of me, guys.
CM: We first saw you at the Festival as one of the Boom Jennies. Are the three of you likely to join forces again in the near future?
CK: The second series of our BBC Radio 4 show, ‘Mission Improbable’, aired a few months ago so we’re still working on projects together. We have a lot of mutual friends so we’ll probably all get to be bridesmaids at a wedding at some point, and p’r’aps try out a few new sketches there.
CM: As well as doing your solo show, you are also appearing in a theatre show. Tell us about that.
CK: It’s the Pinter play ‘A Slight Ache’. It’s an intense psycho drama in which an undersexed woman and her husband murder a wasp and are undone by a balaclava clad man. All before lunchtime in a sweaty shipping container in the Pleasance courtyard. It’s pure crazy, I love it.
CM: What are Thom Tuck and Simon Munnery like to work with?
CK: They’re really smashing. Simon and I have wonderful daily chats behind the shipping container next to a bag of overflowing rubbish before we go on (we share everything from a pint of cider to concerns about vermin) and Thom manages to do the show totally brilliantly every day despite having done infinity shows the previous day and drinking all of Edinburgh dry. Simon’s an excellent eye actor too. And if that doesn’t encourage you to see the play I don’t know what will.
CM: Is it hard to switch between theatre and comedy on a daily basis?
CK: Not as hard as I imagined it might be. The main thing has been training myself not to expect laughter in the play. It’s a really comical piece but Pinter’s not known for the belly laughs – I know, informative… you’re welcome – and because it’s theatre people often just listen. And apparently that doesn’t always mean they hate it, it might mean they actually like it.
CM: You guested on Clever Peter’s Radio 4 sketch show. Have you seen their live show here this year? Are they coping without you?
CK: I haven’t seen their show yet because I’ve essentially been a hermit, but I’m telling everyone to go because they’re brilliant and their radio show was brilliant. I should think they’re feeling my loss keenly though. It’s tough when we’re apart.
CM: You volunteer with charity project Scene & Heard. What’s that about?
CK: Scene & Heard is probably the most fun you can have as an actor. Each term they help ten nine year olds to write a play and then actors perform them. They’re not allowed to write human characters so last term I played the Loch Ness Squid. They’re always the funniest scripts I ever read. Everyone should go see it when they’re in London. It’s the most original night at the theatre you’ll ever have.
‘Catriona Knox Thinks She’s Hard Enough’ was performed at the Pleasance Courtyard at Edinburgh Festival 2014.
Photo: Rich Dyson