The makers of Love My Way have come up with a world- class drama revolving around ordinary lives. Guy Davis spoke with Kat Stewart, the star of Tangle.
Tangle is aptly titled. But the web of relationships the show depicts – among lovers, among friends, among siblings, among parents and their kids – is a distinct joy to unravel, with this new Australian 10-part series offering the kind of complexity, honesty and insight that will attract and captivate an audience with a taste for high-end drama.
Set in Melbourne, it revolves around a group of friends and acquaintances in their 40s, each struggling with their various responsibilities while yearning for their own kinds of freedom and fulfilment.
Some find satisfaction in their career, some in raising their family, some in extra-marital affairs. While everything appears neat and tidy on the well-kept, middle-class surface, tensions are quietly boiling away underneath it all.
It’s with the return of Nat ( Kat Stewart) from London after a 10-year absence that those tensions begin to bubble over.
Nat is the sister of the grounded Ally ( Justine Clarke), who’s married to philandering alpha male Vince ( Ben Mendelsohn). She’s also the biological mother of teenage Max ( Blake Davis), the son of rising-star politician Tim ( Joel Tobeck), who’s married to the tightly wound but strong-willed Christine ( Catherine McClements).
Of course, Nat hasn’t been part of Max’s life for the past decade, something that suits Christine just fine. So it’s only natural that the reaction when Nat unexpectedly shows up at Max’s 15th birthday party is someone whispering “ Oh, s---”.
And playing a character that inspires that kind of reaction is right up the talented Stewart’s alley.
“ I love Nat, I love playing her,” laughed the star of Underbelly, Newstopia and : 30 Seconds. “ She’s a character that allows you to say and do things you wish you had the guts to say in real life. I never would!”
However, there’s more to Nat than just the wildcard factor. While Stewart admits that her character is someone who will act up and say inappropriate things and “ embarrass people for kicks”, it’s motive by mischief rather than malice. Well, most of the time.
“ I think in some ways she’s kind of the cool kid in school who’d, you know, get caught smoking and go to all the best parties and have older boyfriends.
“ And she’s still that in a way. She hasn’t really grown up in a lot of respects. And because she’s been overseas, living for the moment, she hasn’t really had to. But now she’s getting to a point in her life where she really has no choice.”
Still, it’s not going to be an easy transition for Nat, who’s spent the past 10 years as a mid-level TV star in the UK, with Stewart well aware of her character’s flaws and virtues.
“ I think she’s one of those people that is really in the moment when she’s in the moment. When she’s talking to you, you’ve got her full attention. But if she went somewhere else, she’d forget all about you. And without wishing to judge her too harshly, that’s kind of the way she feels about Max. She genuinely cares about her son but her reality is wherever she is at any given moment.
“ So she comes back, and I think maybe even she is a little shocked by how much she wants to be part of his life. And it’s probably not in the traditional ‘ I’m your mum’ kind of way but just in terms of having a relationship with him. And as we find as the show progresses, the reason for them not being together isn’t as simple as it seems.”
Like Nat, every character in Tangle is reaching a turning point, and how they conduct themselves and behave towards the people in their lives helps make the show so compelling. “ People are complicated,” said Stewart. “ I’m interested in what makes them tick.”
The pedigree of writer Fiona Seres and producers John Edwards and Imogen Banks also attracted Stewart, with the actress impressed by the collaboration of Seres and Edwards on the acclaimed Love My Way.
Web of intrigue: Kat Stewart’s illustrious co-stars include ( clockwise from top left) Ben Mendelsohn ( as Vince), Justine Clarke ( as Ally), Matt Day ( as Gabriel) and Catherine McClements ( as Christine).