The Memory of Water: Interview with Juliet Cowan

Monday 8th April 2019

Juliet Cowan, best known for her roles in Cuckoo, Skins and EastEnders, will be taking centre stage next month at Nottingham Playhouse. Juliet will be playing the role of Teresa in the family comedy-drama, The Memory of Water.

She tells us what drew her to the role, what it has been like to work on some of the most well-known TV shows, and what is next for her career…

You’re starring in Nottingham Playhouse’s production of The Memory of Water, what is the play about?

The play is about three sisters whose mother has just died. They come together in the house they grew up in as they prepare for her funeral. Whilst there, they talk a lot about their memories which are all different. It is a fabulous combination of sad and funny.

You play Teresa, an unhappy housewife and older sister. Will you draw from any of your previous roles to get into character?

No I won’t. She is very different from anything I have played. I am one of three sisters, but I am the middle one. Both of my sisters have more of Teresa about them in different ways. I am looking forward to exploring that side of my character and also getting stuck into a role which is almost the opposite of most that I have played.

What attracted you to the role?

Weirdly, not only am I one of three sisters but my mother died a year ago and also had dementia, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. The role came to me, sort of washed up on my shore unexpectedly, like a gift.

You have appeared in a lot of TV series throughout your career, what was your favourite show to work on?

I loved Phoneshop, but I also enjoyed Hank Zipzer. Pulling was so clever and funny and Fresh Meat was a joy especially as I got to smash up a room and play Zawe Ashton’s mum. Skins was lovely as my character was one of the few three dimensional adult characters. Cuckoo is like a family and sparking off Greg Davies is a joy. I have been very lucky with my work and very lucky to work with talented people.

Which character do you get recognised for the most?

Adults tend to know me for Phoneshop and children recognise me for Hank Zipzer

Some of the shows you have worked on, i.e. Shameless and Skins, have been quite controversial. What sorts of reaction do you get from the public for your roles?

I get nothing but loveliness from people. Sometimes I pass gangs of teenagers in the park who confess they love Hank Zipzer. Phoneshop was the only worry as I had a very feisty teenage son at the time going to quite a rough school so the character of Shelley worried me from that point of view.

Are you nervous about taking centre stage at Nottingham Playhouse?

I am very excited, and I can’t wait to start work, although I am a little worried about leaving my children.

You recently visited Nottingham Playhouse for the season launch – what was your favourite thing about the city?

It was a friendly city, but I haven’t really plumbed its depths yet.

What is next for you career wise?

I have written a play, ‘Mum’ which is being produced this year. I am currently writing a one woman show about the differences and similarities between being a middle-aged woman and a teenage girl and I am also working on a sitcom with an incredible director.

How does working in TV and theatre differ? Do you prefer one more than the other?

I do mostly TV, mainly because I have never really been in a position to leave my children for long periods of time. But when I have done theatre, I love the freedom that the structure of the same words affords you each night as you come to it.

Finally, why should people come to watch The Memory of Water at Nottingham Playhouse?

It is such a good play, so funny and so sad and full of life. The company is amazing, Adele (the director) is mesmerizing and the theatre is such an exciting one.

The Memory of Water runs from Friday 3 May through to Saturday 18 May.

Tickets are priced £37.50 – £8.50.

For more information see here.