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Rob Edwards On...Romeo & Juliet

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Rob Edwards is currently playing Montague in David Thacker's modern dress version of Romeo & Juliet which also stars Michelle Collins. Rob has played a variety of roles including Scar in The Lion King in the West End. He has also worked with his co-star Paula Jennings and his director previously in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Octagon. We caught up with him to talk about the Bard, Scar and his admiration for David Thacker.

Romeo & Juliet is constantly staged and sometimes updated. Tell us a bit about David Thacker's version.
As on Midsummer Night's Dream David was rigorous with the text. In general he prefers to do Shakespeare in modern dress - but never as a gimmick. I feel his version of Romeo & Juliet really gets to the heart of the play - a love story - in the heart of a very violent & unloving society.

You are starring alongside Paula Jennings again as Lady Capulet, following success at the Octagon in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Does that make it easier during rehearsals as the chemistry is already there?
Yes very much so - we're very relaxed with each other. She's a wonderful actress and great to do scenes with and great fun to rehearse with.

David Thacker has received high praise for his work at the Octagon and prior to his arrival in the North West. What's he like to work with and how does he challenge actors?
David is a wonderful director to work with - he's both caring and sympathetic whilst being no comprise and tough on results. His whole emphasis is on the actor and helping them to achieve their full potential. He challenges you by making you rigorously examine the text - it's literal meaning and why your character is saying it.

You have played Scar in The Lion King in the West End. How was that experience?
Exciting and rewarding. It was a very tough audition process to get the part and Julie Taymor was one very tough director. The hardest part was trying to master the puppetry and achieve the visual effects they wanted. The actual acting part of it was very straightforward. I played it for a number of years, and although at times I might get to the theatre feeling a little jaded - the music always inspired you to new heights. It was a bit of theatre history and I was proud to have been part of it.

How does performing a big show like The Lion King differ to a smaller production such as R&J?
The budget for The Lion King, rumour had it, was 10 million - my costume alone was probably as expensive as the whole set for Romeo & Juliet. But strangely in the end it's just you on a stage telling a story and that's somehow the same whatever the differences in cost and scale of production.

In the ongoing recession, what do you think theatre provides for audiences who can maybe only afford a few trips to the stalls per year?
Hope and inspiration one would hope.

What was the last thing you saw at the theatre that you enjoyed and why?
Warhorse in the West End. A powerful and moving piece brilliantly conceived.

You have played the Octagon before. What do you remember/recall the most about playing here last time?
One of the highlights for me was the hilarious last scene - the mechanicals play - which as the Duke I loved watching every performance.

What are your plans when R&J finishes?
Back with the familiy for a bit, then back again to do Secret Thoughts which opens on 12 May.

Rob Edwards was speaking to Glenn Meads

Romeo & Juliet is at the Bolton Octagon until 5 March.


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