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The actress, who plays a former Nasa scientist in Walden at the Harold Pinter Theatre, said it had been “very special” to get back on stage.
The play also stars Lydia Wilson as her astronaut sister and Fehinti Balogun as her environmentalist boyfriend in a futuristic drama set on Earth in the near future as climate change is forcing people to think about leaving the planet for Mars.
Arterton said: “It was amazing the first night, there was such love and such generosity from the audience and we really felt that.
“It was very special that particular night because it was the first time we’ve had a shared experience for so long and that is why we do what we do.”
She said knowing it would be the first post-lockdown show for much of the audience was a real “get over yourself situation”, adding: “They’re the show as much as we are”.
The cast and crew are in a bubble and are being Covid tested everyday. One show has already been cancelled after a member of the backstage crew was forced to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who tested positive.
The play, written by American writer Amy Berryman in 2016 and put on by producer Sonia Friedman as part of a trio of work by new writers, includes references to people wearing masks and discussions about more environmentally friendly lifestyles that Arterton said had a “double resonance” in the time of the pandemic.
She said: “We get to fact that we are in something that’s very politically alive at the moment as well as it being a play about 79 years in the future.
“Sometimes that happens, this play just feels like the right play for now and I’m sure that one of the reasons why they chose it, it just resonated with Sonia and felt like audiences are going to respond to this.”