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Brief Encounter with ... Blue/Orange star Gerard McCarthy

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Gerard McCarthy is a busy actor. He has starred in Hollyoaks,Vikings, The Fall and Titanic: Blood and Steel. He is about to tread the boards in Joe Penhall's classic play Blue/Orange which arrives in Manchester next month.We caught up with Gerard to find out more.

Can give us an overview of the play?
Blue/Orange is an eclectic mix of both psychological thriller and black comedy about racism, mental illness and power struggle in the workplace and written by the award winning playwright Joe Penhall.It's a very dark and provocative play that throws some light on some very interesting topics! It is basically about a young patient who is convinced that a notorious military dictator is his father. Bruce (my character), a junior psychiatric doctor wants to do further tests and plan longer care. Robert, a senior consultant, wants to thrust him back into the community.

Did you see the original production?
I didn't see it unfortunately, but that's probably a good thing. I've never seen any production of it and the first time I read the script was when Christopher Luscombe asked me if I would be interested in playing this role, so I'm coming at it with completely fresh eyes and no preconceptions.

Do you think the play's take on the health service is still relevant?
I suppose if the play wasn't relevant, we wouldn't be doing it. However, it just so happens that Bruce is a doctor, he works for the NHS and naturally there are guidelines to be followed, boxes to be ticked and policies that must be adhered to. The issues he has with complying to rules and regulations would still be present if he were a solicitor or a teacher.

How are you finding working with Christopher Luscombe?
I first worked with Christopher on The Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare's Globe a couple of years ago and that was one of the best experiences of my life. I was delighted when the opportunity to work with him again presented itself. He's a superb director. I'd happily work for him again and again and again.

And your co-stars Oliver Wilson and Robert Bathurst?
Two of the nicest guys I've ever met. There are lots of gifted, talented actors out there and Oliver and Robert definitely have that covered; but you know that someone is special when you look forward to getting into a rehearsal room with them and creating something as a team. There's a lot of love in the Blue/Orange rehearsal room.

What was your big break?
I don't think I've had a "big break" as such. I've worked steadily and been very fortunate with some of the people I've worked with but I couldn't pin-point a particular moment and say "it all started to go well from there".

And career highlight to date?
Without a doubt it has to be working with Derek Jacobi on Titanic: Blood and Steel. Watching how he approached his work was a masterclass that I'm sure would be invaluable to any young actor. I'd love to work with him again.

What have you got lined up after Bue/Orange?
I recently filmed a bit on Michael Hirst's new series Vikings starring Gabriel Byrne but that doesn't come out until next year. The Fall is a series that I shot in Belfast a few months ago starring Gillian Anderson, it starts on BBC 2 very soon and Titanic: Blood and Steel is pretty close to being broadcast too.

It stars Derek Jacobi, Chris Noth, Neve Campbell and Joely Richardson, and it's already started in most of Europe, Canada, Asia, and I think it starts in America this month. I suppose it's typical that the Brits and the Irish have to wait until the very end, but it should be on soon, and it's worth the wait.

is at the Manchester Opera House from 22 - 24 November.


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