HomeEntertainmentAlison Oliver On Conversations with Friends, Polyamory & Heartbreak

    Alison Oliver On Conversations with Friends, Polyamory & Heartbreak

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    What makes it quite complicated is what society expects of us in a relationship. When you think about it, the idea there can only be one definitive relationship is actually quite stark. Hopefully, through this story, people will feel like that you are allowed to be more open in how you love and who you love. This story doesn’t label those things, whether it’s gender, or how many people, or sexuality or anything. Sally just embeds those ideas into the character’s narratives – like how both Nick and Frances realise they love two people. And we just get to watch them on that journey, and explore the different outcomes of what that could mean for them. Like, should Nick leave Melissa, should him and Frances end their relationship, or could they make it work in an open situation? And how does this affect Frances’ relationship with Bobby? It all comes to play. There’s a lovely fluidity about it, but the drive is for love and connection.

    You’re currently in your mid-twenties, while your character, Frances, is 21, and Nick is 31 . Do you think there’s an intergenerational gap between how we view polyamory – for instance, is it more normal for those currently in their twenties than it might have been previously?

    That’s an interesting question, because I definitely feel like the generation that I’m in, or certainly the one below me, have an amazing openness to life. Barriers are being broken down and people are much more allowed to live life how they want to live it. There’s definitely a drive towards being less judge-y of who you want to love. Obviously, in our story, that brings a lot of complications because Nick is married, and the affair damages the relationship between Bobby and Frances. But I’ve had people say to me, “It makes me feel OK about how I feel.” And I think anything that opens up a conversation and makes people feel understood, that’s brilliant. So maybe it is a generational thing, but also I think it’s just, hopefully, a more open kind of acceptance in the world.

    Your boyfriend, Éanna Hardwicke, is also part of the Rooney-verse, having played Rob in Normal People. What’s it like having that in common – are you ever tempted to chat about Sally Rooney 24/7?

    I wouldn’t say that! But, you know, because we both went to The Lir, so many of our friends from college are actually in the Rooney-verse too. So it’s this lovely thing we all got to experience together – this similar world.

    So it’s a whole subset of the alumni! You could have a Rooney party, then – where you all just sit around drinking wine and reading to each other…

    And wearing Doc Martens! Actually, that would be really fun. Maybe one day.

    Conversations with Friends is out now. All episodes are available to stream on BBC One, BBC Three and BBC iPlayer for UK viewers.


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