Interview with actress Jessie Wallace

SoGlos chats to EastEnders star Jessie Wallace ahead of her lead role in 1970s thriller, Deathtrap, at Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre.

Ahead of Deathtrap's run at Everyman Theatre from Tuesday 17 to Saturday 21 October 2017, SoGlos catches up with actress of stage and screen Jessie Wallace to talk about her lead role in the play.

The EastEnders and Chicago star reveals what audiences can expect from the thrilling show, how she prepares for theatre roles and her love of performing live on stage.

How’s the tour going so far?

We’re in Cardiff this week, with lovely audiences, a lovely theatre and the show’s going really well.

Are you looking forward to returning to Cheltenham?

Yeah I like Cheltenham; I think it’s a really pretty town and I like the theatre as well.

What can readers expect from Deathtrap?

It’s a comedy thriller by Ira Levin. It ran for four years on Broadway, making it the longest running thriller comedy on Broadway.

It’s about writer Sidney Bruhl, played by Paul Bradley, who was very successful back in the 1970s. He’s got writer’s block and his last Broadway hit was 18 years earlier. He receives this play from one of the students at the university and he tells his wife, Myra Bruhl, who I’m playing, that this play could earn millions, they could make a film out of it and it could run for years on Broadway.

His plan is to kill the writer and make out that he wrote it. Myra tries to convince him to collaborate with him and he ends up inviting this young man round and that’s when all the twists and turns happen.

Do you like playing roles in thrillers?

Yeah, and this is a character I haven’t played before. She seems quite vulnerable but she’s very clever. It’s the journey that she goes on that I like.

Is it fun playing a character in a play with a set and costumes from the 1970s?

I only had two costumes in it; they’re not the sort of thing that I’d wear but they are very 70s.

What is it about live theatre that you love so much?

It’s just the buzz you get when you go on stage; performing every night with other cast members and the reaction you get from the audience. You can just keeping working on it, every night you can do something a bit better and find something different to do.

With television you do something and then it’s gone. Then it takes six weeks or even longer for it to go out, but theatre is a direct thing and you’re interacting with the audience which is great.

Is it nerve-wracking being on stage?

No, I don’t get nervous. I don’t have time for it!

Are there any roles you’d love to play?

There are loads of things I’d like to do. I’d love to do a new play that’s never been done before, or a one-woman show.

How do you prepare for a role on stage?

It’s the whole rehearsal process that you do with the other actors. You can do it organically and just find things and bring them on to the stage for the audience.

Is that the same process with television?

No, you don’t have time to rehearse with television.

Do you think your EastEnders background attracts soap fans to the theatre?

I think that the EastEnders audience is out there as I see them every night and there are people out there who love Paul Bradley. Adam Penford, the director, has done some great plays and there are Ira Levin fans out there too, so the audience is mixed.

For more information, see Deathtrap, call (01242) 572573, or visit directly.

© SoGlos
Friday 13 October 2017

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