Designing 'Fierce' - guest feature by Anna Reid

When I first read “Fierce” what struck me about it was a sense of searching. For me, I saw each of the characters, in different ways, as moving towards, and never quite reaching, a sense of belonging, of location, of safety. In their own ways Finn, Maggie and Felicity (and even Melbany when she notices) live lives constantly in flux, subject to forces beyond their control. For Maggie it's money, for Finn it's her ever elusive muse, for Felicity it's her youth. Each of these factors render them “untethered” in London, a city obsessed with tethers: to a well-paid job, to the property market, to a family, to one partner. In creating the set for Fierce I looked to create a space in which these characters interact, their meetings fleeting and vivid.

Although the inherent surrealism of the play, with its numerous parts all played by one actor, might have suggested a more intangible setting, in the end I didn't think that would have suited the piece. I wanted to give Kat a tangible environment to explore and play with: a defined physical space which all the characters could inhabit together. So I went to Soho and wandered around, peeking up staircases and into windows where I could! Soho's trendiness is still tempered by a lingering seediness. Like Kat herself in the play, Soho is something of a chimera: a tourist destination which is as equally frequented by Londoners, with boutique hipster food joints alongside Cafe Nero alongside very suspicious massage parlours. It's a hopeless mishmash and it's one of the few places in London which holds onto a sense of gritty magic and adventure whether you've never been there before, or you walk through every week. I wanted to bring this sense of adventure and play, (and that ever-lingering seediness) into Finn's studio, and give it a slightly mythic quality which Felicity might see in it: her safe harbour in the rush, the home of her idol, both the end and the beginning of her quest for love.

Hopefully the set looks both warm and human (the sanctuary which Finn's studio becomes for Felicity, and before her, Melbany), and also fantastical and slightly illusory as the desires of each of the characters meld, in the one performer playing them, to shape the environment in which they find themselves. Hopefully it is both familiar and aspirational. The dirty and the daily and the domestic, combined with the stuff of dreams, and quest, and searching, on a dark night in Soho.

(c) Anna Reid

Anna Reid is the costume and set designer for 'FIERCE' by Kathryn Griffiths at Camden People's Theatre, 14-19 October 2014
Fierce trailer:

See Female Arts interview with the writer, director and producer of 'Fierce'
Twitter: @FierceCPT

Author's review: