Read on to find out more from the star of The Be All and End All…
How did you get involved in The Be All and End All?
The play is part of an Education, Education, Education trilogy written by my partner (Jonathan Lewis). We had both come through the GCSE experience with our children and formed the sense that the education system doesn’t seem to be working as well as it could be. But the play is about a lot more than the idea that exam results are not the be all and end all – it’s about the implosion of a family during the A-level exam period. It’s funny and scary and provocative.
Tell us about Charlotte in The Be All and End All?
She is successful in her own right but compromised. She loves her only child, wants him to do well but has also been a liberal mother so being matey while trying to be a parent. And she has been ill. Charlotte isn’t a million miles away from me as a character but what really interests me is to explore this subject matter of education and provoke discussion. There aren’t any easy answers, everyone is doing their best but at what point do we all stop and say no? If we do anything for our children it’s to allow them the possibility of hope and joy and optimism.
You’ve recently spent some time away from acting – why?
Acting isn’t the be all and end all for me. For some people it is. For my daughter (Ellie Nunn) it is. She’s really passionate about it but I don’t think I’ve ever really been like that. Acting is a really lovely job, great team work and great way of expanding your knowledge of yourself and other people but there’s a whole world out there and as I get older I want to see it. I haven’t always been available for my family or friends. I’ve taken the last year to step outside acting to try and just live and to travel and not give up six months pretending to be someone else. I am enjoying being me. I don’t feel a compulsion to pretend to be someone else really.
What kind of roles appeal to you?
As a rule I like to play someone who is very different from me so I can explore what it’s like and try to get inside their head. The roles I’ve played recently are character parts and I really enjoy that. I just saw the brilliant Sally Hawkins in Maudie and she’s brilliant, completely immerses herself in the character. Or that wonderful French actress Marion Cotillard, who played Edith Piaf … brilliant. Pretending to be someone nothing like you is the excitement but we don’t live in a world where often you’re cast like that. You tend to be cast as your obvious self and that’s slightly embarrassing because it doesn’t feel much of a talent just being you.
Don’t miss The Be All and End All at York Theatre Royal from 4th-19th May.
Photograph credited to Anthony Robling.