Theatre Interview: Cara Roberts – Candidness Captured, Or A Childlike Wander

June 8, 2024




Actress Cara Roberts plays a young boy in The King Of Broken Things, Michael Taylor Broderick’s gorgeous, charming tale of a child who processes his complex emotional life through in brilliantly creative ways.


What’s it like playing a child – and a boy, at that?

I’ve actually always wanted to play a boy. I love characters like Peter Pan and Oliver Twist – they’ve always intrigued me. I think we all have that playful nature to some degree. And I’ve always been told I look like a boy! But the challenges of playing someone much younger are the same whatever the gender. Physically, there’s a lot more energy involved. Vocally, your voice has to be much higher for the whole show. And you have to completely let go of ego. You need to believe you can pull it off – if you can do that, so will the audience.


The story talks about various Japanese philosophies and art forms that have to do with how broken things are regarded…

Kintsugi is a Japanese art form where broken pottery is fixed in such a way that you can still see the cracks. It’s about repairing, not discarding. In the play, a mug is thrown by the boy’s mother and he puts it back together. There’s also Kasa-obake, which is a cheeky ghost-like creature with two arms, one leg and one eye. It’s a metaphor for the usefulness of things even when they are old, like a 100-year-old, broken umbrella.


Innocence is such an undervalued property in a world operated with so much cynicism. How did you react to that aspect of the story when you first read it?

I fell in love the first time I read it. I was so moved because of the way Michael wrote it. You never feel like you’re being lectured – you just see a little boy, talking. I have received all that kind of feedback – “wisdom from the mouths of babes” and so on. It’s all unfiltered, which allows the audience to make up their own minds. It’s quite difficult to convey technically, though. At the beginning of rehearsals, I’d just shout everything with high energy all the time. I had to add layers and introspection, to give the audience time to catch up. The show’s been running since 2018, but this year we’ve had our first full theatre runs. Originally, Sue Clarence at the Hilton Arts Festival told Michael that he had to get it there, which gave him a deadline to work to. It’s since gained traction and now, six years later, we’ve had the privilege of playing at the Baxter Theatre and now the Market Theatre.


You’re part of a small theatre company who have all played a role in getting this show on stage?

Yes. We’re Theatresmiths – Michael Taylor Brodereick, Bryan Hiles, Brandon Bunyan, Stephen Woodroffe and me. Because of all our different skills, we always have a technician with us wherever we go, and we can handle different jobs, too. We took the show to Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates with just two suitcases full of stuff for the set, and then roamed the streets looking for bits of rubbish to make up the rest. A lot of the magic of the show is in the technical parts – there’s quite a lot of it.