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Steve Furst: My dream role? I just auditioned for it

Ahead of his latest one-man show Steve Furst: In Character arriving in London, the comedian and actor talks about his time on Matilda, his work ethic and how his work fuses League of Gentlemen and Alan Bennett

Steve Furst
© Steve Ullathorne

1. How would you describe your latest show in five words?
Funny, scary, moving, weird, ridiculous.

2. Is it very different to what you've done before?
No, I have often trodden the path between the ridiculous and the very sad.

3. It's a one-man show, do you find it easier to work on your own?
Sometimes. I think I have learned to work better on my own in recent years. I spend FAR more time on the words than I used to.

4. What can audiences expect from the show?
Something that feels a little like Alan Bennett's Talking Heads with a soupçon of The League of Gentlemen and a dash of Dick Emery.

5. You play five characters, can you give us a (brief!) sense of what they are like?
They range from the more base Mayor of Kentish Town to the rather effete (but very scary) Queenie. The newest characters are a Christian swinger and seemingly mad old man that invented something amazing.

6. How do you come up with the characters?
Usually documentary is the spring board. I see a kernel of an idea and think "that would work as a character monologue".

7. Are they based on real people? If so, can you tell us who?
The new seemingly mad old man is based on an old fella called Mr Trebus who had a documentary made about him in the '90s. He lived locally to me.

8. Do you find working on a show like this and working on a TV show a good combination?
For me it's always been about balancing work. I'm lucky enough to have had great gigs in different disciplines. But I get restless easily. Too much of one thing makes me hanker for the other.

9. Are you planning on returning to the stage in a play anytime soon?
If the show is right then absolutely. I really want to do a great stage comedy. I've still not done one. I know!!!!

10. What is your earliest memory in theatre?
My earliest performance memory was part of the Hampstead Garden Amateur Dramatics Society production of Alan Bennett's 40 Years On.

11. What do you consider to be your big break?
I think my big break sort of came whilst I was performing as my cabaret alter ego Lenny Beige. Our club was one of the hottest tickets in town which led to my first TV show.

12. In an alternate reality, what would you do if you weren't a performer?
Possibly a chef. Granted, its not a million miles away. But I do love cooking and love the buzz of a kitchen.

13. What would your dream role be?
There is one and I've just heard that I didn't get it after a few auditions. Gutted. Don't want to say.

14. What has been the most embarrassing moment of your career?
I've thankfully not had many embarrassing moments. Although I did forget my lines in Matilda one night after doing the role for over a year. The 11 year-old Matilda had to prompt me, in front of 1600 people.

15. How would you describe your work ethic?
Slow to start but then committed.

16. Who are your idols?
Don't really do idols. I do have boundless admiration for many talented folk; Peter Sellers, Jacques Tati, Anthony Newley. Then there are brilliant contemporaries like jazz legend Liane Carroll – an astonishingly good musician.

17. What have you seen onstage recently?
My wife Rebecca and I haven't seen as much recently as we normally do. I did see my friend and one time co-star Michael Brandon perform his one man show. It was bloody wonderful.

18. If you could go back in time and change one thing what would it be?
I'd have taken my breaks more seriously and worked harder.

19. What advice would you give to aspiring performers?
Don't force it; your talent should be nurtured and will improve with age. And don't worry how well others are doing.

20. What do you do in your spare time?
That is none of your business. Actually I play a lot of instruments.


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