Antonia Prebble is taking on comedy in Double Parked

The star is having an outrageous time pretending to be pregnant
Antonia Prebble sitting on the ground leaning against a white chair

Antonia Prebble is at the top of her game with show after show featuring her talents.

Last year, she headed to Australia for the SBS drama Safe Home and then went straight into rehearsals for Auckland Theatre Company’s production of North by Northwest. She finished the year working on Shortland Street.

But it’s her latest project, the bright new comedy Double Parked, from top Kiwi comedians and writers Chris Parker and Alice Snedden, which has given her a new string to her bow: the ability to act in a comedy.

“Most of the shows I’ve done, such as Outrageous Fortune and Westside, have been dramedies. I’ve never really acted in a comedy before and that was one of the reasons I wanted to do Double Parked,” she says.

“It’s quite a step away from the kinds of roles I’m traditionally cast in and I was really interested to see how making a comedy compares to making a drama.”

What she found was something quite different.

“In drama, you have to do the same thing in every take because of continuity. So that’s what I’ve been trained to do. But in comedy, it’s the opposite. They really encourage doing different things each take and improvising around the lines, so I had to keep reminding myself to break my old habits. Having lots of performance options in the edit definitely outweighs any continuity issues that might come up.”

Antonia plays Steph, who is the partner of Nat, played by Madeleine Sami. They are a lesbian couple who decide to have a baby and both end up pregnant.

Hanging out with Madeleine and Chris during the filming of Double Parked.

Part of the joy of making the show for Antonia was that she and Madeleine have been friends for a long time, and finally got to work together.

“I first met Madeleine on Outrageous Fortune and she was heading off to France to study under the prestigious French theatre coach Philippe Gaulier. I asked if I could come too and she said, ‘Yeah, why not?’ We’ve been mates since then.”

As a mum to Freddie, who will be four in July, and Gus, who will be two in August, Antonia, 39, was well prepared to play a pregnant woman and quite happy to help Madeleine with advice.

“We were both wearing false pregnancy bellies and she would say, ‘How heavy is it really at this stage?’ We also talked a lot about how much to waddle and at what stage of pregnancy – things like that,” recalls Antonia.

The result is a comedy that is unique in its ability to reflect the reality of being a woman having a baby.

“I’m really proud of this show and I think it’s quietly ground-breaking. It has two lesbian lead characters but it’s ultimately just a show about a couple in a relationship, their sexuality is never in question. We haven’t had many examples of that.”

Looking back, Antonia is proud of the work she has done in the past year, but is also feeling a bit stretched and deserving of a break, which she is taking at the moment.

She has finished the second series of her successful podcast with psychologist Jacqui Maguire, What Matters Most, and is working on developing some TV shows for production with her partner Dan Musgrove, then she hopes to concentrate on her kids for a while.

“I’ve been working pretty intensively, which has been really great, but it has taken its toll domestically. Every instinct, every cell in my body is telling me, ‘You just need to be at home – look after Freddie and Gus.’ So, I’m basically doing that at the moment.”

Antonia admits as an actor, she doesn’t know what is around the corner, but is hoping she won’t get lured into any more intensive filming at least until the end of the year.

“I’m definitely someone who likes to have a few different things in my life at one time, that’s what helps me feel good about how my life’s progressing and moving forward. But having children has been so wonderful because it’s so fulfilling just in itself. “

Watch Double Parked Thursdays at 8.30pm on Three and ThreeNow.

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