It’s only four years since actress Lyndsey Marshal graduated from drama school but she has already had cut her teeth in all aspects of her art.
Marshal has been seen on stage in Our Country’s Good (Library Theatre), The Maids (Edinburgh), Miss Julie (Caird Studio & Tour), Fireface (Royal Court), Top Girls (New Vic Theatre), Boston Marriage (Donmar Warehouse & West End), Redundant (Royal Court), Bright (Soho Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Bristol Old Vic) and The Crucible (Sheffield Crucible).
Marshal’s previous small screen credits include; That’s Not Me, Peak Practice, Midsomer Murders, Sons and Lovers and The Young Visitors while on film she’s appeared in The Hours, The Gathering Storm, The Calcium Kid, Frozen and the forthcoming The Festival.
Date & place of birth
In Manchester, on 16 June 1978.
Lives now in...
I live in Tooting.
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.
First big break
Probably the play Fireface upstairs at the Royal Court, which I did in 2000 just before I finished college.
I think it was one day when we were rehearsing Redundant and it was during the warm up. I was lying down on the floor and I looked up at the theatre around me and I thought, “Wow how fantastic!”
It probably doesn’t get much better than my co-stars in Boston Marriage, Zoe Wannamaker and Anna Chancellor. We were all so different but we seemed to balance each other out and we became great friends.
I think James MacDonald is fantastic although not worked with him. I think Dominic Cooke is wonderful and Anna Mackmin is great. I think a good director is someone who doesn’t have any ego and who is passionate about the whole process, the journey you go on and discoveries you make. They need to be open and willing to try anything.
What roles would you most like to play still?
I’d love to play Nina in The Seagull. I really like both new work and classical, but the more I work the more I realise it really depends on the director, and if it’s a good director you approach a classical piece like its new work. It’s always good to have a balance of different things, because when you work on classical text it can give you a different outlook and you can take that over to the new work you do and vice versa.
You’ve already worked extensively on stage and screen, what’s the difference and which do you prefer?
Well when you are doing screen its difficult to keep up the momentum of theatre, there’s a lot of waiting around and it’s the crazy thing of repetition. You might do one scene, or one line 15 times and it feels so stop and starty. But in theatre, when you are performing, once you start you keep going with that drive that’s more fulfilling. I don’t know which I prefer but I think I feel more comfortable doing theatre because I’ve done more of that.
What would you advise the government to secure the future of British theatre?
It’s all money isn’t it? Putting more money in. It’s very difficult when you leave drama school because the only place for you to go is the Actors’ Centre. It would be great to have somewhere to showcase young talent and a forum where young directors, actors and designers could work together. Theatre is important, I just love when you see a wonderful play, it can make you relate to situations or escape from your own world. When I see something amazing it’s so electrifying. I love that experience but you either love theatre or you don’t, they say that about opera but its true for theatre too and if you love it you will always love it.
What's the best thing you've seen on stage recently?
Festen, I have just been so disillusioned by things on in the West End and it’s first thing I had seen in a long time that got me really excited. The whole company are brilliant, the level of talent is so high and it’s a very tight production, I loved how visual it was as well.
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead) for a day, who would it be?
I think it would be Baby Jane Hudson in the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?, I just love what she does in that film so much. To do Bette Davies for a day, it would be fantastic.
Birdsong, I’ve just finished reading Fingersmith which was great and I did love the Northern Lights Trilogy too.
Favourite holiday destination
I love Spain, the last time I went, in July, I went to Malaga and got obsessed with this guy Alastair Sawday who has been everywhere and he writes up all these unusual places to stay. So I stayed in a place he recommended called the Beach House, which was brilliant, literally on the beach.
Favourite after-show haunts
I don’t really like members’ bars very much. I usually like going for food after, I love to Busaba Eatai and Café Boheme as well.
If you hadn't been an actor, what would you have done professionally?
I would have been an archaeologist! I studied classics at A level and then I applied to do Classics and French at university, but then I thought, “No, I’ve got to try this out”, so I went to the Royal Welsh College.
Why did you want to accept your part in Sleeping Beauty?
Well when I met Rufus I said I don’t want to play a classical Walt Disney Beauty, there’s something much more dark about someone who’s been locked up for 16 years and not breathed the fresh air for that long. Rufus is such an exciting director and I saw Sleeping Beauty when he did it at the Young Vic before and I loved that, so when opportunity came to do it I thought, “Yeah, I want some of that!”
Is it difficult to go into a company half of whom have already done the show?
It was crazy the first day because it was about 60/40 new versus old. But it is so different because of the new cast members and the staging is not in the round this time. Rufus has approached it from scratch so it’s a completely different production which is good because we are all discovering it together.
This is a show for young people, is that affecting your performance?
Not really. Obviously we can’t go too dark and ghoulish but it’s easy to underestimate the level of kids’ understanding. One performance of Redundant we had a house full of 16/17 year olds from schools in East London and they were so on the ball. They’d talk to you and tell you what you should do, it was an amazing experience. So I think you should never underestimate children.
What's the funniest/oddest/most notable thing that has happened during the rehearsals to date of Sleeping Beauty?
Well we are all quite frightened of our set because it’s crazy, it’s like being on the Waltzers at the fair, so we keep calling it the Kiss of Death – that’s our in-joke at the moment. And we had a complete power cut in rehearsal yesterday so we sat in the dark for a couple of hours singing war songs around candles!
What are your plans for the future?
Gosh I don’t know, this goes to New York in February which should be very exciting. I think I’d like to do more theatre next year, I’ve done a few tellies this year and a couple of films, an Annie Griffin one (she did The Book Group) called The Festival about people who bring a show up to the Edinburgh Festival and I did a horror film in Romania called The Man with the Movie Camera, so I’ve got my pennies now to do some more theatre.
- Lyndsey Marshal was speaking to Hannah Kennedy
Sleeping Beauty runs at the Barbican from 11 December 2004 – 11 January 2005.