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Siblings: Acting Out Interview

Comedy double act Siblings are making a welcome return to the Edinburgh Fringe with their new show Acting Out. Maddy and Marina Bye talked to our editor Kate Stone about family life, dodgy Edinburgh Fringe debut venues and how they work as a thesp and a clown… 

Kate Stone: Tell us about your show Siblings: Acting Out 

Siblings: Siblings: Acting Out is an absurdist comedy sketch show played by one classically trained actress from Guildhall and one classically trained clown from Ecole Philippe Gaulier, who both happened to enter the universe from the same womb. Whilst Marina is determined to plug her career as a serious actress, Maddy is just there. The show is packed with characters from all over the world from the Deep South of America to the heart of West London cafes, where if you want a boiled egg it’s shaved onto a piece of leaf for £12. As real sisters, we hate to love each other and love to hate each other which all siblings can (for sure) relate to. Mix this with some violently synchronised dance and a total abandonment of dignity, you get the show that Paul Foot once left halfway through to throw up in.

KS: Why did you decide to pair up as a double act?

S: When we were small foetuses we used to play characters all the time to make long car journeys go faster. Whenever we saw anyone who was worthy of an impression we would play them for days and days, nobody was safe. Years later with about 1000 characters under our belts, we decided to give it a go on the big stage (a free scratch night at the Edinburgh Fringe in the back room of what looked like a small dungeon in a call centre). Needless to say, it was terrible but dangerously fun to be on stage together and thus Siblings was born.

KS: What inspired you both to go into comedy?

S: Growing up we were constantly surrounded by hilarious people, our family dinners almost always ended in someone’s food gently falling onto the floor from laughing – it was never a “please pass the peas” event. Our family bonding time consisted of tearing each other apart. Our lives were one big comedy roast battle, so you could say it was fixed in our blood. However, we never intended on doing comedy as a profession. Maddy began a career in PR whilst Marina pranced off to drama school to perform Shakespeare and SHAKESPEARE only. It all started to come together when Maddy decided to leave the office to study at clown school in Paris. This was when we started mixing the drama and the comedy together into what then became our first show. After the surprising success of said first show in Edinburgh 2017, we’ve decided the feeling is too good to give up and we’ve found the thing we love doing… Although Marina would still like to be in a Shakespeare, Lady Macbeth to be precise. ButhappytobethemaidtoocandocornishandprettymuchanythingyouaskifRSCisreadingthis.

KS: You’re trained in clowning, music and drama respectively – do you learn from each other?

Marina: Very much so. Something that Maddy teaches me is how to take a risk and take rejection, which definitely comes from the clown training. I can take it to an extent but there have been times where I’ve panicked and yelled at the air conditioning for being too loud after one joke didn’t land. Maddy had to respectfully turn me away and explain that it is always ok to fail… to be fair the air con had asthma… but I understood. Also, a clown has a lot of freedom and a lot of ‘anarchy’ one would say. This is so infectious if you perform beside it and has made me a lot more free and anarchic too. So now the show is completely insane, but that’s where it needs to be.

Maddy: We definitely do. What I love about being on stage with Marina is the bringing together of these two very different forms of training which comes out, in their own way, in every single performance we do. Even though Marina is the thesp of the family, she is absolutely hilarious. Nothing makes me have to hold in laughter until it starts coming out my earholes than when Marina is talking to the audience about her love for Pinter pauses. It doesn’t get funnier than that for me. I learn more from her every performance we do and the combination of my love for mistakes, mess, fails, physical comedy with Marina’s classical quills, ruffs, skulls and monologues just adds another level of bizarre comedy to the performance… she’s also taught me how to be an asshole.

KS: Who are your favourite funny women? 

S: Too many to say! We are definitely inspired by the golden women French & Saunders, Joanna Lumley, our mum’s friend Suzanne Bertishe, Kathy Burke, Victoria Wood, of course, Ruby Wax. We are also always watching funny women taking today by storm, to name but a few, we love Lolly Adefope, Emma Sidi, Jayde Adams, Kiri Pritchard Mclean, Natasia Demetriou and Ellie White, Natalie Palamides, Elf Lyons, Daisy May Cooper makes us pee. The list could go on forever and ever.

Siblings: Acting Out is at the Edinburgh Fringe from 1st-13th and 15th – 27th August. Tickets available here!