West End newbie Liz Kingsman isn’t sure how she got Kit Harington to appear in the trailer for One Woman Show, even less so how she convinced him to perform an interpretive dance. He’s not in the play. He isn’t a friend. He hasn’t even seen the production.
“It could have been a total disaster for him,” she says, with a long inhale. “Even if he had said ‘I hate that. Please don’t ruin my career,’ I would have been like, ‘I have to… I have a scheduled tweet going out in an hour.’”
Instead, he was thrilled, of course. Kingsman is the new queen of British comedy. In a few weeks, she will storm the West End with her Harington-endorsed show: an absurdist, silly spoof on the wave of productions about “messy women” that followed Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, hot off sold-out runs in London and Edinburgh. Her rise hails a lighter, wackier era of comedy, a contrast to the dark times we’re going through. “Dumb is a high compliment,” she says.
It’s a Friday morning and I’m sat people-watching with the actor-writer in an empty café at the back of the BFI, a venue I had assumed she picked to give the impression that she’s a scholarly film buff, but that she actually selected to make sure as few people as possible can hear our conversation. “I didn’t want anyone to listen to me talking about myself for an hour and think that I’m an arsehole,” she says.
Kingsman’s concern is very much unfounded. She is instantly likable: Type-A, allergic to sincerity, and constantly laughing at her own jokes—not because she finds herself really funny but because she hopes you’ll laugh along too. “If I’m consistent in being dry to people,” she says, “then it’s way more fun for me when I get people being funny back, because I know how many times it hasn’t worked.”
Her hair is shampoo-advert shiny. Her outfit—houndstooth blazer, balloon pants, chunky boots—gives her the look of “entrepreneur who would definitely convince all five Dragons to invest in her wellness business.” And her accent was picked up at university in Durham rather than in her hometown of Sydney. “I’m nostalgic for my old voice,” she says of her now-faded Aussie accent. “But, at the same time, I’ve got more work out of sounding like this than I think I would have done [otherwise].”