Interview: Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan on Philip Ridley's Dark Vanilla Jungle
The dark Fringe First-winning stage production embarks on a UK tour
Philip Ridley is a polymath artist: film-maker, scriptwriter, artist and novelist. The casting of Gemma Whelan in Dark Vanilla Jungle brought in another multi-talented performer: when Whelan is not acting on stage, she has been variously a stand-up comic and an action hero in Game of Thrones.
‘It’s such a brilliantly written piece,’ says Whelan. ‘And being a solo, there is so much in it to create. It’s frightening, but very rewarding.’ But she adds that Ridley’s characteristic dark tone – here presented in a monologue that explores the loss of innocence – didn’t disturb her. ‘I really enjoyed it,’ she laughs. ‘It’s quite nice to go to those really dark places: you don’t get the permission to be that brave and fearless onstage.’
Whelan’s performance was singled out for praise during the show’s Fringe run, and she movingly brings to life the trials of a woman caught up in a world of sexual exploitation, violence and horror. Ridley’s vision – which has been worked out through his films, most famously The Krays – is relentless and bleak, and Whelan infuses it with a compassion that refuses to flinch at the ugliness.
Traverse, Edinburgh, Thu 27 Feb–Sat 1 Mar.