June 06, 2020
The star of the film Days of the Bagnold Summer talks about how the death of her brother came while she was preparing to play a bereaved woman
Actor Monica Dolan: Losing my brother to Covid-19 is part of a global story
Two years ago, in a neat suburban house on a cul-de-sac in Bromley, where all furniture was floral, and every wall painted magnolia, I watched Monica Dolan poke her head out of a loft hatch. She was filming Days of the Bagnold Summer, the adaptation of the much loved graphic novel by Joff Winterhart. Her character, Sue Bagnold, was having an argument with her sulky teenage son, Daniel (Earl Cave). “Was that a bit much?” she asked her director, Simon Bird, at one point. “Try it softer,” he said, later adding, “Gosh. That’s lovely stuff.” Later, in the back garden, Dolan sat and explained what had been going through her mind. “I thought, ‘What if I fall through?’” At 51, the Actor had a new challenge. “I think that’s my first ever loft scene, actually.”
In the middle of May this year, I called Dolan at home in London, in a very different world to the lively film set where we’d met. “A friend said that, after this, anything filmed before the Coronavirus is going to seem like a period piece,” she said. Not that Bagnold Summer is a period piece: it’s deliberately timeless. But its story of a mother and son, unexpectedly thrown together for a few weeks, has taken on a particular timeliness, too. “How many people must that be happening to, that they didn’t necessarily end up where they wanted to be, or were planning to be, when all of this happened?” she says.
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