This year's sleeper hit is Trigonometry, a modern romance about a thrupple that develops when a cash-strapped London couple, Gemma and Kieran, take in a lodger, Ray. The show premiered in the first wave of lockdown and earned raves for its representative, realistic and raunchy approach to polyamory.?
We checked in with the show's star, Thalissa Teixeira, who interrupted her holiday in Greece ("it was one of the safest place to go to, for a few weeks of playing music and swimming, which is what we needed"), to talk us through what she loves most about the show.?
Gemma is like no one else?
"I totally just fell in love with the character, Gemma. I haven't seen anyone like that on screen before. Mostly, I llove that she's a woman who... is completely all over the place and hasn't a clue what is actually the best thing to do, and her partner is the one that calms her down and tries to be a bit more rational about things.
It was such a breath of fresh air being able to play someone that's a bit scatty.
I actually wrote a love letter to (director Athina Tsangari) after the audition, saying that I absolutely had to play the part because it was so completely nuanced. I'd never seen a sort of script like that before, so I was really happy about auditioning for it, so very grateful to get the part!."
The characters are believable
"Athina's got this sort of wizardry, being able to put good people together. I keep saying I want her to cast all my best friends for the rest of my life because she has this amazing synergy of being able to just put people in a space together that will work together. I just suppose most of her directing is finding the right people for the right slot.
"The way that she is on set, I mean it's phenomenal. I think for her it was a challenge to have to speed up our dynamic. She wanted to draw a lot out of our lives, as actors, and she drew a lot to do from the fact that I'm half-Brazilian and she wanted to use that. My character is a cook, so she made sure I got cooking lessons... it was just very truthful. She wanted to take a lot of us to put into the truthfulness of the character, to the point where Jessie, who designed the costumes, she came into our house and looked through our wardrobes and really just sort of tried to understand us before then, stripping away things so they can get to the character. So it was a really beautiful process, very delicate.
"The genius cinematographer just sort of roamed around us a bit. So it wasn't ever like, 'Let's film Thalissa there, and then we'll turn around to Ariane and then Gary'. It was like, 'Let's just film the scene and she'd sort of prod Sean and get him to point at different things'. So we'd just do it quite a few times over and then it could mean that if we felt something new, we'd just drop it in. It was good."
It demystifies polyamory; it’s just about modern love
"This word kept flying around, this is about this ‘unconventional’ or conventional idea of how to have a relationship, and this sort of modern idea of love. And those words, we never used those words when we were rehearsing or when we were on set, because it all just sort of made sense. It's a completely random thing that so happened to happen to these people that they couldn't control and they wouldn't have been able to guess what's going to happen, either; that randomness of love, that unexpected thing of who you end up falling in love with, what gender or what sex or what race or whatever.
"Hopefully it does demystify it. This idea of a modern love, I don't know. It feels like love is actually quite old. Being able to love who you need. Definitely modern in the way that it's been considered most of a sort of fad, you know? I think polyamory has turned one lesson to sort of hippie, free love concept of the '70s. You feel like maybe now is the more serious idea of something that needs to be given names and can be accepted."
It’s never boring
"I know of some people that didn't like [the show], which is good, I suppose. It's nice to make something that you know has irritated some people!
"The response to the show was lovely because obviously it came out at the start of British lockdown, of London lockdown. And I was actually hidden away in the New Forest, which is this bit of land at the south of England, for three months. I left London; it was really strange not to have any idea or concept of whether people were liking it or not. And as soon as I went back to London, the best thing was I was actually... the people that stopped me to say that they enjoyed it, They were women of about my age, or black or mixed-race or queer or anything, saying that they hadn't been represented like that on screen for a long time and they were really grateful to see themselves on screen.
"I think it was definitely something for the black community watching it. There was a really good sense of finally seeing black people on screen, living their lives, loving each other for the sake of love. It was very... I suppose no one would want me to use this word, but... normal. But there was a normality in the madness, that I'm really grateful that could have been.
"And just for Londoners, I think they really appreciated seeing London in a way that hasn't been represented; in the first scene you see they go out to a drag night and that's just that sort of thing that happens. You go out, expect to have a quiet night drink and then suddenly you're in the middle of a drag scene.?
"I think there's a such sense of contact and touch and tenderness that I think we definitely needed, desperately."
Trigonomety is now streaming?at SBS on Demand?