When falling in love is against company rules

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Doctor Foster actress Sara Stewart is working again with the show’s writer Mike Bartlett in his latest play on stage in Sheffield.

Sara is an office manager in Contractions, which looks at what happens when a young woman, Emma, starts a romance with colleague Darren, against company rules.

Emma is called to a meeting by the manager and the drama unfolds in a series of meetings.

Sara said: “Matter of factly, it represents higher powers in our lives and how much we are manipulated, how much control or how much privacy we still have over our own lives and what our rights are.”

Sara has wondered if she will get hate mail from the audience! “As an actress, naturally you are someone who is responsive and empathetic and you enjoy exploring feelings and that whole exchange.

“I am having to shed all of that and, rather than playing nasty, just feel appropriately neutral when things come up in the office.

“It’s very strange, That’s quite a challenge, to not give anything away.”

She added: “I think people will find it disturbing and I think they might want to kill me. You have to remember it’s not me, it’s the face of the company. She is just doing her job and she has learned to do it very well.

“It’s a ticking boxes world. Everyone is covering themselves against litigation.”

Sara said that the play explores how much we are all being watched and controlled in our day-to-day lives.

She added that the play is also very humorous: “It’s very funny because of the absurdity of the scenarios. There’ a dark sense of the absurd. Then it just becomes deeply disturbing. It’s only 50 minutes long but it’s very intense.”

Mike Bartlett’s script for Doctor Foster was his first for TV. His play Bull premiered at the Crucible Studio last year before transferring to New York and King Charles III has just been seen at the Lyceum, starring Robert Powell.

Sara, who has also starred in Sugar Rush and Ashes to Ashes, said that the famous dinner table scene in the BBC drama Doctor Foster was as electrifying to film as it was to watch.

She said: “That scene in particular was like a play. I’m not sure it’s ever been done for TV to have one scene with a script that was 20 pages long. It’s played out like a play.

“We had to do it over and over and over again and they shot it from different angles”

The second series is about to be filmed, said Sara.

Contractions is at the Crucible Studio until July 16. Box office: call 0114 2496000 or go to Sheffield Theatres