How did you come to be directing a play about snooker?
When I joined Daniel [Evans] at Sheffield as associate director, I always had this idea that I would like to do a snooker play in the home of World Snooker. I've directed several of Richard Bean's plays in the past and I nudged him and, bless him, he agreed to write it. He's very into sport, Richard, he's a cricketing fanatic. He knew a bit about snooker and he did a bit of research and came up with a smashing play.
Will there be a snooker table onstage?
The world championship doesn't actually take place until the end but I can't tell you anything more about it because it's a comedy thriller. It's very dark. It made me laugh a great deal, but I think there's a few surprises with it.
Are you a big snooker fan?
Er, no. I do like watching it, but I don't watch it as much as I used to. I just loved the idea of having a snooker play in the building.
There's an actual snooker player in the cast…
Yes, John Astley. He won't be acting, apart from acting playing snooker, he doesn't have an integral part, he's just there to play the difficult shots. Jack O Connell can play snooker, I'm not quite sure how well yet. He's told me he's been practising.
Which came first, directing or acting?
Acting. I went to RADA, and I was quite good at mime because I didn't have to speak - my Scottish accent let me down all the time. At the end of the two year course I was picked to direct a mime play. So I got a taste of directing at RADA. But I was also an associate director at the Royal Court for two years.
Have you turned more to directing recently?
I've always tried to keep doing both. I like having two hats, you don't get too set in your ways. I wouldn't like to direct all the time, because it's more stressful. And I generally direct new writing.
Why is that?
I think that theatre should be about the society we are living in. I'm not too keen on people who want to take a Shakespeare play and set it in the Vietnam war. I also think it's our duty to encourage new writing and new writers.
Do you find it easy to switch between acting and directing?
I find it's quite easy, I keep my mouth shut as an actor, I know how annoying actors who keep giving you their ideas can be. No that's not true. I encourage ideas. I direct very much through my actors.
What's it like working at the Crucible?
I have only directed in the studio before, I'm a main stage virgin. But I have grown very fond of Sheffield I was delighted to join Daniel as an associate when he first asked me.
You are famous for Victor Meldrew, does he follow you around too much?
I know I'm never going to lose him. It doesn't worry me. It worries me if there's some drunk person trying to get me to say the dreaded phrase. Otherwise it's usually alright.
The Nap runs at Sheffield Crucible from 15 March until 2 March.
Share via Email
No thanks, don't show this popup again.