Interview with the writer: Lee Mattinson

We’re delighted to welcome back playwright Lee Mattinson to Live Theatre with his BITESIZE Play Never Forget. The show is on in our Studio Theatre on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 April at 8pm. Here’s what Lee had to say about his show…


So, Never Forget is a dark comedy about Martha who undergoes a face transplant that goes horribly wrong. Lee how did you come up with the idea and what was the inspiration?

I’ve always had an odd fascination with transplants and whether or not they are ever a purely physical exchange. Or if some remnant of the donor remains on that organ which in some way then infiltrates the recipient.

Sometime last year, I decided I’d like to explore that curiosity in a play about a face transplant which I’ve been mulling over until I was commissioned to write something for the BITESIZE project. It was then that I decided it was time to whip out the face swap rom-com and it’s developed from there.

I wanted to write about how important faces are to us, how much of who we are they really are and the repercussions of what happens when you accidentally lose yours.

Without giving too much away, what’s the show about?

It’s about a painfully middle class couple called Martha and Fergus.

Martha has been horrifically scarred in a house fire and the play opens with the revelation of her new donor face, which once belonged to a boy called Ethan.

The play examines the effect this new face has on Martha and Fergus’ marriage. It sounds grim but it’s quite funny too. And there’s avocados in it.

How influential are Take That on the piece?

Before his untimely death, Ethan was a member of a fake Take That tribute act and so I used their music to soundtrack the play.

Martha was also a huge fan of the band in her youth and, as she begins to learn more about Ethan, she is drawn back to her teenage diaries to reconnect with the girl she once was – the raunchy working class girl who became a repressed middle class woman.

Never Forget is part of the BITESIZE programme a new initiative created by Queen’s Hall Arts to develop the work of emerging playwrights and produce short BITESIZE Plays. Can you tell us a little bit more about the project and how Never Forget fits the BITESIZE concept?

The Queen’s Hall have basically handed out three short commissions and asked writers to fill that with whatever they see fit. I think that’s a really brave move but, for the writers, also a very liberating one.

Theatre’s so often want to know exactly what you intend to provide them with before they’ll back an idea – which will invariably change unrecognisably in the drafting process – and so it shows a confidence and commitment to the writer’s they’ve chosen.

I think it’s a bold project but one which has facilitated the creation of three distinctly different but, hopefully, very entertaining pieces of new writing.

How do you hope the audience will feel having seen Never Forget?

With any play it’s always the hope that they have a laugh, maybes have a little cry and not wish that they’d just stayed at home and listened to The Archers omnibus.

Oh, and final question, what’s your favourite Take That song and who’s your favourite member of the band?

I’m not a fan of Take That although I did listen to their Greatest Hits during the writing process and Never Forget would have to be my top of their pops. If I’m honest, I wouldn’t cross the road to meet any of them. Maybes Gary. Post-makeover.

Never Forget is at Live Theatre on Saturday 5 and Sunday 6 April at 8pm. Tickets cost £8, £6 concsFind out more and book tickets or call Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

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