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Glyn Kerslake on ... The Game of Love and Chance

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As previously reported on whatsonstage.com, french farce gets a Sixties makeover at Salisbury Playhouse with artistic director Philip Wilson’s production of Marivaux’s The Game of Love and Chance, translated by Neil Bartlett.

The cast includes talented pianist and actor, Glyn Kerslake, who was last in Salisbury over Christmas in the musical show With a Song in My Heart, and has extensive theatre credits including The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables.

In The Game of Love and Chance Glyn plays Maurice, and will be playing and singing Sixties love songs on the piano, live on stage.

The show opens on 31 March, and in the last few days of rehearsal, Glyn found time to speak to whatsonstage ….

So how are rehearsals going?
Rehearsals are going really well. The last time I was here I only had a 3 week rehearsal period, for a show which had 32 songs in it! So, it was quite rushed. We’ve had the luxury this time of a full months rehearsal, so it’s been quite nice. We had the first week just sitting round a table and chatting through the show, so everyone was clear about what was happening. It is quite a complicated piece – as all farce is complicated I suppose. We started putting it on its feet in the second week. And now, we are just fine tuning it, and its becoming more fluid.

tell me about the show, and your role in the production?
Its an adaptation of a Marivaux play, which was an 18th century farce – and we’ve done an English 1960s make-over. We are setting it in a mansion house in the countryside and the home of a very wealthy family. I play the role of Maurice, who is the brother of the lady of the house, who is the one ‘looking for love’, and looking for marriage.

The father organises one of his friends, who is an eligible young bachelor, to come to the mansion and meet her to see if she is appropriate for marriage. And it revolves around this meeting, in a farcical way, as she and the maid of the house swap roles so that she can take a little view of guy to see if he is suitable for her. At the same time he and his chauffeur also swap roles so that he can get a good look at her. So there are two disguises going on, and I and my father kind of watch them play out, play the game and just have fun with it. Its quite complex and wordy, but its beautifully written and very funny and I think the Salisbury audience will really enjoy it.

What appealed to you about this production?
There are a few things that attracted me to this role. Firstly my CV, if you like, is full of musicals, but over the past couple of years I’ve managed to delve into some straight plays which I’ve found has been a really enjoyable experience for me. So I wanted to do more! I also have a great soft spot for Salisbury and I have worked here a few times now. I love this theatre and I think Philip (Wilson) fantastic. And the play, when I read it, I thought seemed to be a good challenge for me, and a really good opportunity to have some fun. I’ve never done farce before and although people may mock it, farce is an art form all of its own. For an audience to be affected, it has to be done very precisely and very well, and the timing has got to be perfect. So that’s really the reason why I’m doing it.

You have an impressive back-catalog of musical theatre credits, what have been your highlights?
In terms of prestige and what other people might look on as being the highlight of my career would be playing the role of the Phantom in The Phantom of the Opera for a year, and other west-end shows that I have done, like ‘Les Mis’, Miss Saigon, andMartin Guerre. And they were classic opportunities, and I did really enjoyed them, but I have to say that I have reached a point now that I don’t want to be in a long running show any more. I’ve done that now, and it has great rewards and advantages, but you just get to a point where you hunger to have variety and do many different things. And what I love about Rep particularly is that you don’t get enough time to get fed up with what you are doing, or for it to become run-of-the-mill week to week performances. You all come together to put on a piece - you get a month to play it - then you move on to something else. I think for an actor it is always good to be trying new things, new writers, working with different directors, actors and actresses, so you are constantly being challenged artistically.

Do you enjoy touring live theatre?
I don’t mind touring as long as the work is good and I’m enjoying working with the people I’m working with, and I’m artistically rewarded - then it’s great. There is something really lovely about going all round the country experiencing people from all walks of life – getting to know the differences out there. There are some beautiful theatres in the UK, and if you don’t tour you don’t get to know what they are like. There are stunning theatres all around, not just in London’s west-end, but everywhere.

Whats coming up next for you?
I don’t know whats coming up next. I was lucky enough when I was here at Christmas doing With A Song in My Heart, which is a Rodgers and Hart review, to learn from Philip that he wanted me to do this play, so I had the luxury of having a six week break knowing that this was coming along. That is not common though, but that is what it is like for an actor – sometimes you know what is coming up and sometimes you don’t. You can go three or four months, perhaps doing concert work, just waiting for a theatre contract – and sometimes you can get three jobs all at once! It’s a precarious job that we do, but it’s kind of exciting as you never know from one year to the next what you are going to be doing. A bit scary perhaps, but kind of exciting!

You are also an accomplished composer, are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m just re-visiting a show that six years ago, for children, called Haunted. It is about a haunted hotel. It has been very well received wherever it’s been done but I feel now that I need to update it, so I’m going to spend some time on that.

Has it become more difficult to get work in the current climate?
To a certain extent I think it has always been precarious. Today there are more and more people wanting to get into the performing arts than ever before and there is a massive pool of well-equipped actors and actresses out there and there just aren’t that many jobs to go around. But I think that’s probably always been the case to some extent. I do think reality TV has had a slight influence in that more people want a taste of stardom, and a lot of people will go on these shows and get cast from there. And as much as they do bring new audiences to the theatre, I think they are not concentrating as much on honing their craft - they just want success, and they want the fame. I think we are in danger that the younger generation will just want all that handed to them on a plate without putting in the weeks and months and years hard graft to be as good as they can be at what they do. And of course the situation now that anyone can be employed, it’s not a closed shop anymore for Equity members so if somebody is right for a role, regardless of their training, they will just get cast. So it can be hard for any actor, but it’s a competitive environment in which we work and live, so that’s what you have to take. If you can’t take it then its best to get another job!


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