Duns Players are delving back into the archives to tackle not one but two national treasures.
Their performance of ‘Falwty Towers’ in 2011 is still talked about now, so it would be fair to say that first-time directors Helen Forsyth and Matt Taylor have a tough act to follow with ‘Steptoe & Son’ and ‘The Vicar of Dibley’.
Helen has been enjoying putting her small but perfectly formed cast of four through their paces.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing directors Peter Lerpiniere and Eloner Crawford at work over the last few years and having got a degree in drama myself from way back when, I fancied a crack,” she explained.
“I loved the way Peter and Eloner really built up all the different characters when we did ‘Calendar Girls’ and I think like that show, ‘Steptoe & Son’ is all about the characters.
“I feel like I’ve been given a gift. It’s a beautiful script so wonderfully written by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.
“I actually quite like the pressure of having to direct something which is such an institution, but rather than a carbon copy of a TV episode you have to take into account an audience so it can’t be a small private thing.”
As she is tries to put her own stamp on ‘Steptoe & Son’ as a director, Helen knows it is important her cast, particularly the actors playing Albert and Harold, inject some of their own personality and ideas into their roles.
“What I don’t want our version to be is an imitation of TV, so while people will see parallels between Bob (Noble) and John (Schofield) and original actors Wilfred Bramble and Harry H.Corbett, they are playing the parts their way.
“I have to say, though, at times Bob does look a lot like Wilfred. He’s got a brilliant Albert grimace!
“The two other members of my cast are Christine Schlater and Genny Dixon, who play Albert’s love interest and a spiritualist called Madame Fontana.
“Christine’s character is nothing like her role in ‘Calendar Girls’ and we’re having a lot of fun making Genny into a vibrant and lively character.”
John Schofield, having been at the helm of previous Players productions ‘Brylcreem Boys’ and ‘Flare Path’ is “happily concentrating on acting and trying not to bump into scenery” this time around.
“It would have been easy to fall into a parody of Harry H.Corbett as he played the part so well, but while there’ll be a nod to his fantastic performance, I’ve tried to make the role my own,” he says.
“From what I’ve seen of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ so far its cast are doing the same. They’re taking on the essence of much loved characters but playing them their own way.”
To find out more about Duns Players’ take on the Dawn French favourite read ‘The Guide’ next week.