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Merrily in Boston last Autumn was completely joyous.
Jenna [Russell] wasn’t available, but Damian [Humbley], who is now essentially my annoying younger brother, and I had a blast. It’s a piece that grows in depth, the older you get. The candlelight scene is one of the greatest pieces of writing I’ve ever read. I had been away filming for the first two weeks of rehearsal so I was off-book when I got there.
How was the experience of performing Merrily We Roll Along last year in Boston, a few years after the production's great success in London?
It looks like you and the whole company are having a great time with Hogarth's Progress. Two things attracted me to this production - firstly the brilliant cast, some of whom were attached at that point, and secondly the part of Robert Walpole in the first play, which would never normally come my way except in a cross-cast situation.
Nick Dear described him as a cartoon when I first met him - and I’ve had enormous fun playing him. A lot of the cast spend a lot of time impersonating his creepy voice.
On the way, I stepped over two pools of blood, three piles of vomit and the air was heavy with the stink of urine. How does playing historical figures change your approach to a role and your shaping of a character? Garrick was a bit more elusive as a character, because he is always being disingenuous - and it’s not as if there is any footage of him at work - so I was lucky to meet with Michael Caines at the Times Literary Supplement, who is a Garrick expert.
Are you an actor who enjoys research and, if so, what kinds of research on Walpole and Garrick did you undertake? I’m not a fan of research unless there are holes in the script that have to be filled by the actor. He kindly talked me through the background to the man and what made him tick.