Enter stage left... Carabosse (The Sleeping Beauty, Chelmsford)
As unpleasant as I am – physically, vocally and emotionally – able! She must be bad bad BAD to the bone – and I enjoy going to the extremes of this heightened character. At one point in the performance she picks on a small child and recalls the tale of the ugly duckling, only professing that when she does grow up: “You're going to be ...UGLY! Just like your Mother!” This lady dishes out the abuse to everyone in bucket-loads.
Do you model her on anyone?
I didn't set out to model her on anyone in particular, but through rehearsing the part I started to notice distinct similarities to Richard E. Grant's Withnail in Withnail And I, Alan Rickman, Penelope Keith and just a hint of Anne Robinson.
How important is it that the audience believes in her wickedness?
Incredibly important. The actor cannot want to be “liked” in a role such as this. It demands complete immersion in total wickedness for the audience to believe this woman is as vile as she appears! It not only makes the experience more fulfilling for the audience as they witness a truly ghastly portrayal of a “baddy” but also highlights the contrasts between all the characters.
Each principal has an individual place and motivation in the story as well as a particular way of expressing it. By being totally bad, you highlight the qualities of the other characters more profoundly. It also brings out more comedy and stronger reactions from an audience perspective and allows younger audience members to observe the plot more clearly.
When I took this job, a mother who had seen many a Sleeping Beauty and other pantos, expressed to me that she did not wish to see another wishy-washy baddy attempting to maintain some sympathy and warmth from the audience throughout their wicked facade. She pointed out quite frankly (and quite loudly in a broad East London accent) over the dinner table: “When I go and see a pantomime, I wanna be abused!!!!!”.
I took this note on board and have henceforth committed such abuse on the good people of Chelmsford.
Does she have any redeeming features?
Never. You're talking about Carrabosse...the most wickedly sexy superpower in the kingdom. Don't underestimate my wrath!
Do you think she has genuine motivation for her evil?
Of course. Every character in creation has some form of motivation for whatever behaviour they display. Carrabosse in particular is fuelled by insecurity, as are most rascals and scallywags. She is so twisted with jealousy and inner self-loathing it induces her to kill the teenage Beauty - and just for not being invited to a christening! One may see this as a deep analysis of a pantomime baddy...but everyone has their complexities...even she!
Have you played the part before? if so, how have you changed it, and why?
I have never played a part like this before. However I am loving every minute of this new experience! If every audience member leaves the theatre feeling abused by this wicked woman and believing all she has said and done to be wrong and rotten, that is all I can ask for.