From the Mitford sisters to the Kardashians, history is dotted with socialite sisters and infamous siblings that have caught the public’s attention. They’ve collected more column inches than the combined height of a Hilton sister’s collection of heels, as newspapers have fed on the tantalising gossip and whispers of scandal surrounding them. It’s no wonder, therefore, that Adam Bock’s The Colby Sisters Of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania caught the hit-making Tricycle Theatre’s attention.
Making its world premiere at the acclaimed Kilburn venue last week, Bock’s black comedy about five society sisters and the darker side of their seemingly charmed lives, there was also another reason why we were intrigued; it marks the London stage debut of Claire Forlani.
While the successful screen actor hails from Twickenham, you’d be forgiven for thinking she was LA born and bred. From appearing in Kevin Smith’s cult Mallrats to playing Brad Pitt’s love interest in Meet Joe Black, Forlani has spent the majority of her career working in the US, so we knew there must be a good reason why Bock’s play could tempt her on to the stage and back to her home city.
Forlani, who has most recently been seen in hit series NCIS: Los Angeles and alongside her real-life husband Douglas Scott in romantic comedy Love’s Kitchen, took time out of rehearsals to answer our revealing Q&A in which we discovered exactly why she was drawn to the play and why, for all her glamorous Hollywood credits, the only thing she has in common with the Colby Sisters’ lives is a love of caviar.
What first sparked your interest in performing?
Black and white movies, I loved them as a child. It happened one night, The Philadelphia Story, Bringing Up Baby.
Describe your character in the play in five words.
Scared, hurt, desperate, loving, protective.
How are you feeling about making your London stage debut?
What was it about this production that drew your interest?
Reading it for the first, second, third time made me laugh out loud and it still does now and I’ve read it a hundred times. Adam [Bock] is a brilliant writer, he gives you comedy but with depth and complications, which I appreciate.
This marks the play’s world premiere. What should people expect?
I have no idea, hopefully a great experience if we get it right.
You must have been to a lot of glamorous parties in Hollywood. Did any part of the play ring true to experiences you’ve had and people you’ve met?
No, this isn’t my world. I can imagine it but thankfully it’s nothing I’ve had to live or experience.
If you could create a fantasy production to star in for your next stage production, who would you cast, who would direct and what would it be?
Jesus can I get through this one first?! But I think I would like to do another comedy.
What is the finest performance on stage you have ever seen?
Recently I loved Protest Song with Rhys Ifans, he was magnificent, and Old Times with Rufus Sewell and Kristin Scott Thomas. I also loved the cast in Another Country, they are all so young but wonderful.
LA or London?
I love London, truly love it. I am also grateful for my years in LA.
Who or what has inspired you?
I love being inspired by art, film, books, theatre, people, places. That’s the beauty of being alive, anything can impact at different times and make you feel differently or better or brave or really anything.
What has been the happiest moment of your life to date?
The happiest moment I have had was marrying my husband and being married to him.
What would you choose as a last meal?
I love this question. I ask people this question all the time. Caviar to start, crispy duck and then chocolate cake with ice cream, and red wine!
Where is your absolute favourite place in the world?
My home, with my family and my dogs, that’s when I feel happiest. And the south of France.
What will always, without fail, bring a smile to your face?
My dogs greeting me at the front door.
What one book, one film and one album would you recommend?
The Disenchanted by Budd Schulberg, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? and Hunky Dory by David Bowie. I never get bored of reading, watching or listening to them, they inspire me.
If you had to star in one other show currently playing in London, what would it be?
I would love to do A Streetcar Named Desire someday.
If you weren’t an actor, what would you be?
Hopefully someone who does something useful, like a teacher, doctor or I would love to be a pianist. I can’t play the piano, but I’ve dreamt of being able to play all day long and get lost in music. That would be heavenly.
The Colby Sisters Of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania plays at the Tricycle Theatre until 26 July. Visit the Tricycle Theatre’s website to book tickets.
"This isn’t my world. I can imagine it but thankfully it’s nothing I’ve had to live or experience."