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The cast of Coming Clean From left to right, Lee Knight, Stanton Plummer-Cambridge, Elliot Hadley and Jonah Rzeskiewicz star in the return of Kevin Elyot’s Coming Clean. Photo: Joseph Sinclair

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Stanton Plummer-Cambridge Comes Clean on life as an American in the UK

We spoke to Stanton as he prepares to reprise his role as Greg in Kevin Elyot’s Coming Clean, which is returning to Trafalgar Studios 2 from Jan 8 to Feb 1, 2020

Published on January 6, 2020

Thank you for your time Stanton! Our traditional first question, where in the States are you from?

Thank you for your time! A great question to start with - I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York (specifically Ditmas Park West) - It’s not a very well-known part of BK - Basically between Flatbush and Prospect Park South.

How did you find yourself moving to the UK?

Well, after I finished college I moved to France for a year to teach English and then decided halfway through that job that I wanted to go to drama school. As I was already in France and I have a lot of family in the UK (my parents are British-Caribbean, so I have British citizenship through my mother), I decided to apply to schools in London. I got into a couple and I guess that was that! It’s funny though, I never intended to stay after graduating, but I ended up signing with an agent here and then working shortly after... and that was nearly four years ago!

You're returning to the London stage in January - and returning to a role you've performed before - in Kevin Elyot's play Coming Clean. Can you tell us about the play and its story?

Sure! The play takes place in 1982, which is 15 years after the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK. Without giving away too much, it deals with themes of love, sacrifice, communication, and how we change as individuals. I always say the play documents what happens when people stop communicating in a relationship, and the fallout of that... But it’s also very funny!

Stanton Plummer-Cambridge Stanton in rehersals for Coming Clean. Photo: Beastly Studios

How did you become involved in the play, and how does it feel to be returning to the role in 2020?

I got involved in the play through the typical audition process - I had worked at the King’s Head before, but never worked with Adam [Spreadbury-Maher]. After getting a call from my agent and reading the play, I was sold. We got the show up and running in a pretty short space of time last year, so returning to it this year feels great - it’s a real luxury as an actor to have a second go at a part, and a year makes a real difference in terms of life experience - so I think we’ve done some really awesome work this time round. Plus, having Jonah [Rzeskiewicz] as part of the company is brilliant - he has brought so much to the part and has been a great team player, so we’ve all gained from his generosity.

Coming Clean was first performed in 1982 - as we enter 2020, how do the play's themes and subjects connect with modern audiences?

Ultimately I think this play resonates with audiences because of how Elyot paints a portrait of domestic life - the characters all happen to be gay, but I think we are all able to connect to themes of love, loss, wanting a relationship to work, miscommunication, and the need to be understood and supported. Also we are entering a new decade, and I think that a decade doesn’t ever come into its own so to speak until it is nearly halfway over. The year 1982 wasn’t quite defined by the image of the '80s that we have today- it was like the '70s or a '70s hangover, at least in terms of moods, attitudes, and thoughts... so I guess we can all relate to that distinct sensation that we have at the beginning of a decade - that sense of moving forward into the unknown, politically, romantically, emotionally... financially!

In regards to the time period in which the play is set – we see a really interesting slice of time where homosexuality was no longer considered illegal, so gay men were beginning to openly create these images of domesticity (sometimes modelled on templates provided by heterosexual couples, other times not), but at the same time were being victimized in the streets. It's also just before the outbreak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, so although Elyot never makes mention of it, watching the play now, there’s a distinct sense of the impending loss and pain that these men will undergo.

What do you hope theatre-goers seeing the play take away from the experience?

I hope they walk away thinking about relationships, communication, love, and I hope they get some laughs as well.

What's life like as an American actor in the UK?

No complaints! I find it a very exciting place to be a creative person - there’s a lot of funding here for projects, and there’s a level of respect here in regards to theater that I don’t think is quite reflected in the US. You could put a show on in a pub theater for example, and everyone from residents nearby to some of the biggest casting directors would come to see it. So there’s a great deal of opportunity here.

What do you most miss about the States, and most love about Britain?

I really miss eating peanut butter and jellies without being judged - the States is great for that. I also miss how dramatic the seasons are in the North East. I miss real summers! And I miss how straightforward New Yorkers are. You’re never in doubt about where you stand with a New Yorker! But I love Britain as well. I find the history fascinating- so much has happened on this island, and you constantly bump into the remnants and vestiges – especially in London.

What's ahead for you in 2020?

I hope to start writing some stuff of my own, sketches, and a play, and I hope to do this play justice, and get to my best friend’s wedding in Capri (love you, Kat).

Finally, what's the best thing about being Stanton Plummer-Cambridge?

Learning more about Stanton Plummer-Cambridge. Every day. And eating peanut butter and jellies. Unabashedly.

Stanton plays the role of Greg in Kevin Elyot's Coming Clean, which returns to the London stage at Trafalgar Studio 2 from Jan 8 to Feb 1, 2020. Check out tickets by going to trafalgar-studios.com/shows/coming-clean-2

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