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Shifters: ‘ I’ve never played a character like this before.’

Despite this being the first time working on a project together, Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole have obvious chemistry, even through a Zoom call.  “You heavily rely on each other, because I trust Tosin; it just makes it easier to be really vulnerable. Because the show is incredibly vulnerable.” Heather explains upon being asked about working with Tosin Cole (Doctor Who, Bob Marley: One Love).  Written by Benedict Lombe, Shifters tells the story of Des and Dre. “It's a very complex love story that passes through time and space and it shows how one relationship can affect different parts of your life” says Heather (School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play).  Tosin echoes her sentiments entirely, “It's basically a relationship of cause and effect. What causes certain things to happen?”  Carrying a two hander is no easy feat, but yet both have risen to the challenge.  Coming from previous productions where the ensemble is larger has meant that things felt much more “technical” for Tosin and there’s not been much “time off” when it comes to rehearsals.  You want to make this vulnerable experience being shared by two people as real as possible for the 200 observers coming to watch it.  “I’ve never played a character like this before.” states Heather, excitedly.  Her previous theatre run in School Girls at Lyric Hammersmith finely balanced teen-aged comedy with societal commentary, but Shifters feels more rooted in the complex relations we have with romantic love.   Having never met Tosin before they were cast alongside one another she’d hoped he wasn’t all “ego”, she gladly explains that he’s “just about craft”, a sentiment she finds “beautifully refreshing.”  At one point the two share a joke over the fact that “he didn’t want to give me his number!” to which Tosin jokes back, “you never asked me for it!”.  There’s a fondness and familiarity that can only come from spending so much intimate time with someone. And Tosin hopes that in the way they’re relatable, people will be able to relate to the characters they play.  “They’re so well fleshed out and so relatable, especially to see them at different stages. Through those stages and ages they change as people. They’re very real.” summerises Tosin.  Shifters runs at Bush Theatre until 30 March.

The Floor Mag chat to actors Heather Agyepong and Tosin Cole about playing Des and Tre in new play Shifters

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