I asked him some questions so we can get to know a bit more about him. We hope you enjoy this little insight and watch this space for further cast introductions...
When did you join Churchdown players?
It was 1995. We went to a reading of a play, supporting our two girls who were interested in being cast and somehow, without auditioning we ended up with parts.
Have you been in any other drama groups?
Yes. Our group had just staged ‘Blithe Spirit’ and were moving onto another production when we were contacted by another drama group who were staging the same play - but the two leading characters had dropped out with only a few weeks before the production. The group wanted to borrow two of us to reprise our roles. I was very nervous about trying to re-create the same character in a very different cast, but it worked out fine and it was interesting to see how another group functions.
Can you remember the first production you were in and who you played?
It was 1995 and the play was ‘Man Alive’ and I think the character I played was called George Ingle. (This was the play we hadn’t intended auditioning for). It was set in an Oxford Street shop and centred on mannequins that came to life when the store was closed.
What has been your favourite character that you have played?
I’ve either been in or directed or been in and directed at the same time many plays over the 28 years, but without doubt my favourite is ‘Present Laughter’ by Noel Coward. I was the director and the character of Gary Essendine was a joy to play. It was a difficult play to do justice to, but we had an ideal cast, everyone was so strong and the play just fizzled; it’s one of the few plays I wished could have run for a far longer period than our standard three nights. The group has done some great productions but in my view this play, our production, is the best thing the group has staged. Not quite in the same league but very enjoyable just the same was playing Officer Crabtree in Allo Allo.
Who do you play in the hound of the Baskervilles?
I’m Sherlock Holmes.
Can you tell me a little about the character you play?
The name speaks for itself, what can I say? The character has been portrayed since silent cinema and has probably been portrayed more than any other character. Is there any actor who would turn down the opportunity to play Sherlock Holmes? The great consulting detective is irresistible. Even though he is a hero, of sorts, he doesn’t have to be a good person; he behaves badly, has annoying habits, is thoughtless, has lots of faults and foibles, he is easily bored, has lightning changes of mood and yet at the same time he can write monologues on complex subjects, is razor sharp, is a calculating machine, comes to deductions whilst everyone else is confused and is a genius! There is a subtle undercurrent of friendship with Watson, although emotion is alien to him. One thing he certainly isn’t is dull.
Which would you rather be, a hero or a villain?
I wouldn’t describe most of the characters I’ve played as either a hero or a villain. I’ve played villains in pantomimes and melodramas, that’s about it. I read in a biography that the actor Eric Porter (Moriarty and Soames) liked collecting villain roles, I don’t share that aim. Hero’s, well I guess Sherlock Holmes is a hero and I’m looking forward to the performances. I don’t really have any preferences; I just like a meaty part I can get my teeth into and try to find the undercurrents and themes that are specific to the character. As I’ve mentioned above, my favourite character is Gary Essendine, its impossible to describe him as either villain or hero and yet he is the most complex and interesting role I’ve played.
I get as much pleasure and satisfaction from directing as acting. There’s something about finding a play, getting a cast and bringing the whole thing to the stage.