Coming to the Coliseum Studio this April, Best Girl is a semi-autobiographical play written by actor Christine Mackie inspired by the loss of her father, and starring her daughter, actor Lois Mackie.
In a tour-de-force one-woman show about the power of the past and the search for a hopeful future we meet Annie, a veteran’s child on the way to change her life.
Well known as Coronation Street’s Dr Gaddas, Coliseum audiences may also recognise Christine from her role in our production of Whisky Galore, which made its world premiere in Oldham before embarking on a national tour in 2018. We sat down with Christine for a chat about Best Girl, working with her daughter and her history with the Coliseum.
What inspired you to write Best Girl and tell people your story?
My daughter Lois is an actor and was offered a twenty minute slot at a Scratch Night at Hope Mill Theatre in October 2018. We talked about possible material, looked at some existing monologues and then I said I’d write something. And this is the miraculous bit – Lois said, okay! Kayleigh Hawkins directed it and there was a rather overwhelming reaction from the audience on the night and I was encouraged to develop it. So to make me do that I entered it in the Greater Manchester Fringe which was terrifying but certainly concentrated my mind! We also got to the final of the LETS AWARD in London run by the Pleasance Theatres. We didn’t win but were asked to apply for Edinburgh with the promise of a venue at the Pleasance Courtyard so we did. At the Greater Manchester Fringe it was nominated for Best Drama and Best Actor and we had a brilliant run throughout the Edinburgh Festival playing to great houses and lovely reviews.
What can audiences expect when coming to see Best Girl?
Best Girl is a one-woman semi-autobiographical piece and though it has been updated to present day Manchester the story of its central character, Annie, is based in part on my life. She is in her late twenties, pretty ordinary, friendly and funny but struggling with a recent break-up and attempting to come to terms with her childhood traumas. She has secrets, and she doesn’t know how to open up and tell her loved ones. She confides in the audience, speaking directly with great warmth and humour. Best Girl is small story but it has resonated for a lot of people and is a tremendously positive and uplifting play.
How does it feel watching Lois perform?
Working with Lois has been a privilege. Not just because she chose to spend so much time with me and we never fell out, but because she’s so impressively professional. Whenever we talked about the script, looked at another draft, she treated me as The Writer not as Mum even though this was my first play. And Lois is TERRIFIC as Annie, it’s a real tour-de force performance. Now I would say that cos I’m her mum, wouldn’t I, but it is true and watching her is emotional but also a great joy. And we’ve done a lot of laughing! I wouldn’t have missed sharing Best Girl with her for the world.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I think that’s tough to answer. I was so full of uncertainty growing up. Seemingly ok but all the time absolutely convinced that a real future with happy outcomes was simply not for me. I wish I’d known that patterns of behaviour can be broken through counselling and that being given the means to fully grieve would be transformative. So I would tell little Christine to talk about how she’s feeling and keep on talking, because there are people out there who really want to listen and to help.
Tell us about being part of Venue’s North with the Coliseum
Lois and I were absolutely thrilled that Best Girl Productions were be asked to be one of the Coliseum’s Venues North companies. It was lovely to get to know the other creative companies and see them in Edinburgh, it made going there less scary and we were proud to be part of the North’s representation of new work. It was great to see people from the Coliseum during our run and being able to bring the show back to Oldham is fantastic. I had such a ball when I worked here in Whisky Galore and I really hope the famous Coliseum audience will support our show and have a chat with us afterwards. I’ve been busy this year on the Coronation Street cobbles as GP Dr Gaddas and this is a chance for you all to see that she writes more than prescriptions!