Masque Theatre head to The Playhouse Theatre with Rosanna Lowe’s adaptation of Madame Bovary from 10 April 2018. We’ve had a quick chat with the cast to shed some light on their “madcap tragedy”…
You appear to be having some serious fun in rehearsals, judging by all the amazing pictures you’re posting on Twitter– can you tell us your favourite thing so far (without giving too much away!)
Julia Langley (Emma Bovary): By far my favourite part of the rehearsal process has been the constant potential for sexual innuendo within the text; you’ll see when you watch us! A close second has been working very closely with some wonderful talent and learning to trust each other as an ensemble; the beauty of such a snappy production with 51 scenes is that we need to be on the ball, and if we’re not, we need to save each other!
Lou Chawner (Dr Charles Bovary, plus many more): Erm, there are so many fun bits it quite difficult to pick out the best one. The nuns scene is just properly wet your pants funny, and there are also some really cool looking and slick moves in there that I think will genuinely impress people. Well, I impressed myself when I learned how to do them anyway. I think perhaps the most fun part is knowing that I think people are in for a surprise. There are so many elements, and the way it sways from light and dark, absurd and serious is so interesting, and hopefully, we can take people on that journey with us. That and the way everyone has really gelled together is into a really tight team is awesome.
Between you, you play 22 characters – has that been tricky to get your heads around? Have you got a favourite out of your smaller roles?
Beverley Webster (Rodolphe, plus many more): I think numerically this is the most characters I’ve played in one show (I was meant to play 9 in a theatre in education show but that got cut to 7 in rehearsals) and yes it is tricky to get your head around. I’ve realised halfway through a scene that I’m doing the wrong accent in rehearsals, but that should hopefully change now we’ve got some bits of costume. Mind you today I kept wanting to put on Rodolphe’s costume too early and then realised we weren’t quite onto his scene yet. He’s very charismatic so I guess his scene was just at the forefront of my mind.
My favourite small character is the bridesmaid – she doesn’t actually appear in the script, but I do have a couple of communal lines. She’s just SO excitable, I love her energy.
What made you audition for the show?
Mairead Kearins (Leon, plus many more): I auditioned for the show because I had a massive theatre-shaped hole in my life! I had always been involved in theatre since a young age and for some reason had put it on the backburner for a year, as I was looking for the right project to involve myself in. As a sucker for costume dramas, I was very excited to discover that Masque Theatre was holding auditions for Madame Bovary, as I had wanted to join for some time. I grew up in Northampton and was very aware of the prestige that Masque had in the area, as well as the variety of productions they put on. I’d also mainly portrayed comedic roles in the past, so wanted to give myself a challenge. I’m now living my dream of playing a romantic in a period drama!
Julia – Are you enjoying playing Emma? She’s a controversial character – do you think she is truly selfish, or a victim of her situation?
Julia: Emma is such a wonderfully deep character. I feel that the best way for me to answer your question is to say that I think she is both a victim and selfish. The thing that gets her into trouble is that if she chooses to act selfishly, her choices affect her destiny much more than that of a modern white privileged woman like myself. If I marry the wrong person, for example, I could leave with the support of others and without blackening my name. The same is also mostly true if I were to have an affair. Emma does not have these choices and feels melancholic because she is trapped in a life that is not enough for her. I feel Emma’s character is very current as it asks questions that are still being asked of the modern woman. Are woman allowed to be pleasure seekers now, and not fit society’s expectations and constraints? The audience will make up their own mind if they empathise with or judge Emma, but I think what I have found through playing her so far, is that she is a human with flaws who makes poor decisions, just as the rest of us do.
Lou and Mairead – this is your first show with Masque, how are you finding it? Tell us a bit about your performing backgrounds.
Lou: Honestly, it’s been incredible. Auditioning and then joining a new group can be a little daunting, but I felt welcomed to and part of the team immediately. Also, the fact that it really is such a great script and visually it will look amazing makes me feel lucky to be joining the group at this time. My performing background started with stand up, which I’ve been doing for many years now, and I’ve also done a few theatre productions, most recently with Duston Players. Oh, and I was an extra in a horror film a few years ago. No lines but it was lots of fun getting all scarred up and covered in blood. I actually left the set in a bit of a rush too so didn’t take the scar off my face and was still wearing bloody and ripped clothes. Got quite a few funny looks when I stopped for petrol on the way home.
Mairead: I’m absolutely loving it! When I first auditioned, I thought it went terribly as it had been a while since I had auditioned for anything, so it was a lovely surprise to be told that I had been cast! I am really enjoying the variety of parts I am playing and the fact it’s hilarious one minute, then emotional the next. My performing background started in school productions. I loved being involved in musicals and pantomimes, as they allowed me to be over the top, which I love. I also did a few showcases, mainly singing infamous musical theatre ballads. This continued at university, particularly with pantomimes, as I was part of the pantomime society, which was so much fun! I mainly portrayed men and matriarchal figures and I loved it! I also continued to perform in musical showcases but came out of my shell and began performing fewer ballads and more upbeat numbers! I even dabbled in a little Shakespeare, so I actually broke out of my comfort zone. Madame Bovary has allowed me to play character types I never thought I’d play and it’s the best experience!
Beverley – Tamsyn Payne, your director, tells us that you’ve surprised them with your funny side, having stuck to straight roles in the past – has it been good to try something different?
Beverley: I’m really pleased that I’ve got the opportunity to show that I can play a whole variety of comedy characters. Usually, you only have one role in each show and therefore it takes a while for you to establish yourself as a flexible actor/actress, assuming appropriate roles come up and you get cast in them. Up until this year, I have been cast in fairly tragic roles, so it’s great fun to break out of that and hopefully after this anyone directing shows in the future will consider me for comic parts as well.
Madame Bovary runs at The Playhouse Theatre, Clare St from 10 – 14 April 2018
Tickets: £9 (Concessions £8 / Members £7) available from St Giles Music, by phone on 07586 288793 or online at www.wegottickets.com/masquetheatre
Suggested as suitable for 14+