Edinburgh Fringe Q&A: Nuclear Children

Writer and performer Ezra England discusses their dark comedy Nuclear Children, which was the winner of the 2021 Platform Presents Playwright’s Prize

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Nuclear Children
Photo by Alex Brenner
Published 15 Aug 2023

Tell us about your show and what audiences can expect?  

Sure! It’s a dark comedy about mental health, a submarine accident, and a melon. Although we’ve all seen a hundred one person shows by now, I think audiences can expect to be surprised because we have a few tricks up our sleeve. Without spoiling anything, it blurs the line between reality and madness in some fun and horrifying ways. 

Can you talk about some of the creative team involved?

The lovely Seán Linnen is directing, and his instincts with it have blown my mind. It’s been amazing as the writer to see things pulled out from it that I didn’t realise were there. He’s unbelievable to work with, and I’ve felt very lucky the past few weeks. 

We’ve got sound design by Russel Ditchfield, who’s great fun and insanely talented – I think the sound for this show is the key to delving into Isla’s mind and that’s something Russel has taken and flown with. 

Robbie Butler has designed the lighting, and he’s another insane talent – he’s really embraced making the world as visceral as possible in some very exciting ways. (He’s also lighting seven other shows at Fringe so you might see him around power-napping). 

Hannah Sibai has designed the set and costume, which both look amazing, and both have tricks up their sleeve. Beth Barrington-Davies is our stage manager, and we would all be lost without her. 

The show is being produced by Platform Presents, who are wonderful and truly care about the piece and its future; all in all, I feel insanely lucky to be working with so many genuinely lovely and talented people. 

Where do you draw inspiration from for your work, both in terms of creation and performance? 

Usually, it’s a mix of lived experience and imagination through a quirky lens; I think the perspective you choose to explore when writing is crucial. I’m a big fan of comedy and not taking things too seriously, which is something that always makes its way into anything I write. Performance wise, I just try to immerse myself in a character in a way that’s truthful; I don’t overcomplicate it or think too much about it, because for me that’s the work and research you should have done before. When I’m performing, I just try to stay present, and that means that you get to play and have fun. 

Looking at this production, how would you say it links to previous work personally and thematically? 

This is my first play, but I’ve always tended to lean towards exploring family dynamics in other writing as it’s something that interests me a lot. Magical realism helps me ground stories (ironically) and is a theme that I think will always crop up in anything I do because I love it so much. 

Why is this an important story to tell? 

In this country we’re all feeling the effects of underfunded mental health services and this play touches on a person unable to access help; it’s a reality for so many people and has definitely been a reality for me. 

What would you like audiences to take away from seeing this production at the Fringe? 

Anything they like; what’s great about it is that it explores a few difficult themes in some fun ways so hopefully can resonate in varying ways with different people. 

Do you tend to take inspiration from events happening in the world around you in terms of your work? Do you think artists have a responsibility to respond to what's happening? 

It’s always good to be aware of what’s happening in the world, but I think the only responsibility artists should have with making work is doing what feels right for them, because ultimately that in itself is a political act. You can create something yourself as one thing and others will see it as another. Personally, so far, my work explores a lot of my own experiences but also things that are completely alien to me through a lens I can relate to. It’s a big world, and incredible things happen, but a lot of time my work comes from my overactive imagination. 

How do you feel about the current arts landscape in your country and your part in it? Does it excite you and inspire you to keep pushing the boat out? 

Places like the Fringe are incredible for championing new work; the last few days have made me so excited for my future as a writer and performer. There seems to be a lot of space for emerging artists at the moment, which is really great. In London it can be so difficult to get work on, so things like this are very important. 

Have you got your eye on any other shows that are part of the programme? 

Edmunds, Katherine and Pierre, Ginava’s Messy Friends, Bitter Lemons, String vs Spitta.

What’s next for you and how are you feeling about the future in general?

Next! (*laughs nervously*) I’ve actually got nothing lined up from September. If anyone wants to hire me / send over a self-tape so I don’t have to go back to working in hospitality, please do. I’m also currently applying to literary agents to hopefully secure representation, which would be great. 

I’m feeling good about the future, to be honest, I’m just relieved people like and can relate to my work. That’s always nice. I tend to not look too far ahead, I’m more just celebrating what’s happening now. 

How can Edinburgh audiences keep up with you beyond the festival?

My Instagram account is @_ezengland and I tend to post what I’m up to there. I’m also represented for acting by Felix De Wolfe.