Interviews with the Main Cast - April 2003; Publicity Release
Acclaimed British actor Michael Kitchen plays Greg, the hapless husband desperate to save his rocky marriage by throwing a lavish surprise anniversary party for his wife Linda (Phyllis Logan). The party goes with a swing and Linda is pleased, if a little embarrassed. But when the party ends, Greg has more than the dishes to do when he gets into a fight with his business partner Martin and accidentally kills him. Greg now has a body on his hands.
Michael Kitchen describes his character as: "Devoted, hard working and generous in a single minded, self centered, naïve, neurotic kind of way: a bit like me," he laughs. "What he becomes is the result of the situation in which he finds himself, and he is totally at the mercy of, and rather blindly if willingly, led by Marcey."
In the dead of night, Marcey (Sophie Okonedo), one of the waitresses at the party, realises she has left her handbag at the house, and has to return alone. Marcey creeps around the house looking for her bag when she literally stumbles across Greg and the lifeless body of Martin. In time Greg manages to convince her that Martin's death was a tragic accident and not the cold blooded killing she suspects.
Michael describes Alibi as perhaps a thriller but admits to enjoying the comic aspects of the story: "Paul Abbott is up there with the very best screen writers around of which there are precious few. This is the third time I've worked with him, and the first time since Reckless that he, myself and David Richards have been able to work together again," he says. "Depending on the outcome of this, it's probably one of the best and most successful working arrangements I've experienced, with lots of give and take, plenty of flexibility, loads of suggestions with everything pretty much wide open and adaptable up to the final take."
"This one has been particularly challenging," he continues, "the sheer volume of dialogue aside, there are a number of ways to go with it. First of all, with the number of changes it goes through, it's difficult to know what it finally is: I think we all felt it was important not to make it too broad a comedy - too much would be forfeited that way - but that's been very hard to resist and to steer it along that edge.. and there might well be a handful of instances where we've frankly failed. Paul has written some brilliantly observed situations and it's so very difficult, while you're doing them, to stand well away from how deeply funny they are…. or rather should be. It's a great script; I sincerely hope we've got the best out of it and done it justice."
Michael Kitchen's long and varied career includes numerous roles in theatre, film and television. His television credits include The Hanging Gale; Kidnapped; A Royal Scandal; Reckless; Dalziel & Pascoe; Oliver Twist; The Secret Life of Michael Fry; Lorna Doone; A & E; and Foyle's War.
His film credits include Out of Africa; Russia House; Enchanted April; The Trial; Goldeneye; Fatherland; Mrs. Dalloway; The World is Not Enough; New Year's Day and Proof of Life.
Stage appearances include the following plays: Romeo & Juliet; Spring Awakening; Bedroom Farce; State of Revolution; No Man's Land; On the Razzle; Rough Crossing; Richard II; The Art of Success.
Talented actress Sophie Okonedo plays Marcey, a waitress moonlighting from her regular job as a Benefits Officer. During the party she notices the intimacy of Greg's wife Linda and his business partner Martin, and suspects they are having an affair.
Later, when the party is over, Marcey has to return to the house to fetch her forgotten handbag and stumbles across Greg holding Martin's corpse. She jumps to the immediate conclusion that she has walked in on a crime of passion, and desperately tries to flee the house. But after a while Greg manages to convince her that he knew nothing of his wife's infidelity. Soon, it is too late to call the police and they make a decision to fake an accident and get rid of the body. The events that ensue rely heavily on Marcey's practical approach, and the need to keep their story straight produces some tense and funny moments.
Sophie describes Marcey: "I know it sounds boring, but Marcey is very, very practical, and thoughtful. She really listens to people, and observes what is going on around her. She is quite instinctive, and she is a genuinely nice person who really cares for people. On the other hand, she is quite a loner and very self sufficient." Do these qualities echo Sophie in real life? "Hell, no", she laughs, "I am completely the opposite. I would have gone to pieces, burst into tears, called the police - and then denied everything!"
Like Michael Kitchen, Sophie is quick to praise Paul Abbott's writing. She says: "Since I did Clocking Off, I would always jump at the chance to work on his material. I had also met David Richards and really wanted to work with him, so when this script arrived I was thrilled. It is very unusual, and on top of all that, I get the chance to work with Michael Kitchen", she enthuses. "I think he is just a phenomenal actor, and very different from many actors. You can never work out how he is going to do things until he does. He is truthful, and that is my favourite kind of acting."
Sophie describes her character: "She is very quirky, and the relationship between her and Greg is an unusual one, you cannot quite put your finger on it. I did a lot of work on the words, and thought about Marcey and her situation very deeply, but I left everything to do with her relationship with Greg to one side, believing that it would happen when we arrived on set. I hope it works on screen because I really felt it did. They are such an odd couple! I don't think many people would have thought about casting us together. They obviously thought we would be so opposite that it would be interesting and something rather rare on television."
Sophie's burgeoning career began when she saw an advertisement in Time Out for young writers to join a workshop. It turned out to be at the Royal Court Theatre, taken by Hanif Kureishi . She says: "We had a great time although we didn't do much writing as I mostly read out other people's stuff, and I ended up being in plays at the Royal Court. It all started from there."
Sophie trained at RADA and her television credits include Clocking Off, In Defence; Sweet Revenge; The Inspector Lynley Mysteries; Spooks 2. Her theatre credits include Troilus and Cressida; I Just Dropped By To See the Man; The Vagina Monologues; Night Songs; Caryl Churchill Event.
Sophie's film roles include Ace Ventura II; The Jackal; This Year's Love; Mad Cows and Dirty Pretty Things directed by Stephen Frears.
Scottish born actress Phyllis Logan plays Linda, Greg's disenchanted wife, who despite his best efforts to keep her happy by throwing a lavish surprise party, is secretly planning to run away with his business partner Martin.
"When Linda walks through the door and sees all her friends, she is not only surprised but overwhelmed, and a little upset that she doesn't look her best!" laughs Phyllis. "But she is feisty and straightforward, which is partly what attracted me to the part," she says. "There is a very secretive element to her as she is having an illicit affair and manages to cover it up rather too well! As the story goes on, she has quite a lot to contend with as Greg's neuroses go from bad to worse and she doesn't really understand why."
When Linda discovers her lover is dead and a waitress from the party is working for Greg her antennae start working overtime. Phyllis says: "We soon discover that Linda is quite a tenacious lady, with a bit of the Miss Marple about her when she begins to suspect that things aren't quite as straightforward as they might be as far as Martin's death is concerned. She's pretty tough actually, which is always nice to play. It is such a well written script, very clever, with great dialogue so it was the quality of the writing which sold me the part."
Phyllis describes ALIBI as a "murder story, with lots of black humour and because it is written so well the situation is believable, it is totally bizarre and of course Michael Kitchen is a past master at that understated hysteria, so when it came to the readthrough there were moments when we were rolling about with laughter. Then of course you check yourself given that the story has its serious and tragic side, after all someone has died," she says guiltily.
Phyllis Logan is best loved for her role as Lady Jane in the long running, popular series Lovejoy, but for ALIBI she was able to keep her natural Scottish tones. "I do quite a bit of posh English stuff," she says, "but it is always lovely to be myself, and the script and the dialogue seemed to fit with the nuances of the Scottish dialect."
This was the first time she had worked with Michael Kitchen and Sophie Okonedo, she says: "It is always nice to meet up with new people, and I love the quirky relationship between Michael and Sophie, I think it works really well."
Phyllis has appeared in numerous television dramas, which include Inspector Morse; The Big One; Kavanagh QC; Love and Reason; The Midsomer Murders; Holby City; Randall & Hopkirk; Heartbeat; The Cow Jumped Over the Moon; Sitting Target; And a Nightingale Sang; Defrosting the Fridge; Bust; Out of Time; Lovejoy; Time and the Conways; Off Peak; Scotch & Wry and The White Bird Passes.
Her film credits include Another Time, Another Place for which she won Bafta's most Outstanding Newcomer Award, The Standard Film Award for Best Actress, Taormina Film Festival for Best Actress and the Rimini Film Festival Best Actress award. Her other film credits include Secrets and Lies; Shooting Fish; The Kitchen Toto; The MacGuffin; The Dress, The Chain; Every Picture Tells a Story.
Her theatre appearances include Civilians; Threads; The Loveliest Night of the Year; The Threepenny Opera; Cara Coco; Dick Whittington; Guys & Dolls and Chamber Music.
Actress Hilary Maclean plays Steph Linda's sister in ALIBI. Hilary describes her as "a very ordinary kind of girl, she and her husband Danny (Adam Kotz) have a very straightforward life, nice house, two kids, and they just find themselves in the most extraordinary situation. Her brother in law is behaving in the most bizarre way, he is being utterly incredible and weirder than normal. This is so beyond their suburban ken they are not sure how to cope."
Like her colleagues Hilary finds it hard to categorise the drama. She says: At times at the script readthrough everyone burst into fits of laughter, and it is a long time since I have been in anything that made me laugh out loud. It is definitely a drama, but with moments of understated hysteria, and dark at the same time. It was ultimately the quality of the script which was attractive in the first place."
Hilary, like Phyllis Logan was born and bred in Scotland, but this was the first time they had worked together. "Despite us being part of the Scottish mafia," she laughs, "our paths had never crossed before. She is great fun and I very much enjoyed working with her. It was also very nice not to have to flatten out my Scottish accent. I must say Scottish seems to be the voice of the moment as I have recently done voice-overs and commercials which I have been given because of the accent. Apparently, Scottish accents are very trustworthy. God knows why!" she adds.
Hilary has recently been involved in a variety of roles. She says: "I am so lucky, I do a good mixture of work. Last year I was doing Midsummer's Nights Dream at the Royal Exchange, I did a tour with Mill on the Floss which was a fantastic experience because we took it to China, and Washington, and before that I did Monarch of the Glen. I was only in one episode, I played Archie's sister, but I gave birth on screen, and thinking about it I have been pregnant rather a lot on telly lately, but in real life I only have one little one."
Hilary trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, and her theatre credits include: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie; The Importance of Being Earnet; Prickly Heat; The Witches of Pollack; Les Liaisons Dangeureuses, The Mill on the Floss, Poor Superman; Life is a Dream and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Her television credits include: Taggart; Strathblair; Dr. Finlay; The Bill; Colour of Justice; Life Support; Dangerfield; Just Desserts; The Creatives and Monarch of the Glen.
British actor Adam Kotz plays Danny, Steph's husband and brother in law to Linda.
Adam describes his character: "Danny and Steph, and their life, in comparison to Linda and Greg's is more stable, and less ambitious. Although Danny's job is not specified, I imagine he's quite a practical bloke, and has something to do with construction, a surveyor perhaps. They live in a much more modest house and presumably put all their earnings in to their kids. They are very much a contrast to Linda and Greg.
Adam talks about ALIBI: "there are moments in this that are going to be quite hilarious- no one has actually described it as a black comedy, but I think viewers will find some unexpected scenes. The first premise of an accidental death is not a story you can pigeonhole and that is very refreshing - Paul writes fantastic character portraits and he gives you, as an actor, the seed of something to take on. He is not afraid of the darker side of life, and while certain dramas attempt to do that, if they are not rooted in realistic characters, however thrilling it is not going to be real, and this was totally real. Its got loads of style."
Adam was familiar with Abbott's writing since he appeared in the first series of Touching Evil. He says: "Paul seems to like to challenge himself with each piece he does. I really responded to this, it is a cracking script and everybody felt at the readthrough that things came to life. I like the way its plotted, at times there is nothing definite about people's motives, nothing prescribed and there is a lot of freedom within the characters. And its been a real treat," he adds.
Adam's theatre credits include: The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Trelawney of the Wells, Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The Miser, Racing Demon, True Dare Kiss, Command or Promise at the National Theatre; As You like It; A Family Affair; Royal Borough; Deaqler's Choice; Hamlet; Spring Awakening; Love Labour's Lost and War Play Trilogy at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His television credits include: Casualty; The Bill; Dangerfield; Band of Gold; Touching Evil; Shot Through the Heart; All the King's Men; Monsignor Renard; The Lost Battalion; Midsomer Murders; Spooks; Holby City; Heartbeat; The Man of Law's Tale; and Suspicion.
He has appeared in the following feature films: Secret Passage; Max and Helen; Without a Clue; Love Potion No. 9.