Bri­tain’s most beau­ti­ful city just got a whole lot more mag­i­cal – as well as busier! Here’s our guide to must-see shows at the Ed­in­burgh Fringe.

GT (UK) - - CONTENTS - Verge of Strife runs at the As­sem­bly Ge­orge Square Stu­dios (Venue 17) Aug 4-29, ed­fringe.com, @jon­ny­labey

Mix­ing the life and works of First World War poet Ru­pert Brooke – whose charm and wit left bruised egos and bro­ken hearts through­out the up­per ech­e­lons of Bri­tish so­ci­ety – comes new piece of the­atre Verge of Strife, de­but­ing at this year’s Fringe. And with Ru­pert once de­scribed as ‘the hand­somest man in all of Eng­land’, it seems apt that our for­mer cover star and de­part­ing Eas­tEn­ders ac­tor Jonny Labey takes up his man­tle…

When did the idea of you tak­ing a show

to Ed­in­burgh be­gin? I told my­self last year, when I knew I was do­ing Eas­tEn­ders, that if I got any spare time to make it hap­pen, I’d do it. I was gut­ted to miss last year, so I made a prom­ise that I’ll get on it early this year.

What’s the play about? play of Ru­pert Brooke’s life, so that’s an in­ter­est­ing his­tory to be a part of. He’s one of those po­ets that wrote a lot of the po­ems we as­so­ciate with Eng­land and the war, but he was the lesser known than some of the oth­ers. What was it about Verge of Strife that

took your in­ter­est? If we look at the script it­self, it’s a com­pletely dif­fer­ent era. It’s like a ro­man­tic era, an al­most ro­man­tic po­etry to­wards the end of that era of po­ets. It’s a pro­ject I’ve im­mersed my­self in for months. Will it be a chal­lenge for you mov­ing from the cam­era lens of Eas­tEn­ders

to a live au­di­ence? Hav­ing done mu­si­cal the­atre be­fore, I guess live per­for­mance is more my thing. I’ve only been on Eas­tEn­ders for a year, which is crazy be­cause the amount it has done for me is unreal. I had an amaz­ing time there, but I think it’s time to switch my brain into some­thing com­pletely dif­fer­ent. Is Verge of Strife a change of pace for

Ed­in­burgh au­di­ences? In terms of Bri­tish her­itage, Ru­pert Brooke is a part of English writ­ten about his life. So that’s one way to look at it. But in terms of the con­tent of the play, it goes through a lot of dif­fer­ent taboo topics and it’s en­joy­able. It’s re­ally a piece of art and it’s been writ­ten so beau­ti­fully. It’s struc­tured by his po­ems through­out his life. I think it’s go­ing to be quite heavy, es­pe­cially con­sid­er­ing the sub­ject mat­ter. It’s light hearted in cer­tain bits, but just in terms of the lan­guage and how much script there is, be switched on for day in day out. Do you se­lect your jobs based on tack­ling ‘taboo’ sub­jects, then? I don’t think you should nec­es­sar­ily judge a job

by how taboo it is. I think es­pe­cially as an ac­tor, when you au­di­tion for things, you don’t re­ally have con­trol over that. In this script, it cov­ers quite a range of topics. The show deals with Cam­bridge schol­ars and that area of life, plus ro­man­tics go­ing off to war, and there’s a quite an as­sertive at­mos­phere with a lot of Cam­bridge po­ets. It also explores a lit­tle bit of ho­mo­sex­u­al­ity, na­ture which they all have with each other. Ru­pert Brooke is very much in love with two women, so it deals with a lot of dif­fer­ent themes and goes from A to B. It’s ba­si­cally just bloody beau­ti­fully writ­ten.

Does it also ex­plore a lit­tle se­lec­tion of mu­sic, too? Pos­si­bly, yeah! It’s be­ing ex­plored be­cause some of Ru­pert Brooke’s po­ems were ac­tu­ally com­posed and writ­ten as scores. I think we’ve man­aged to get hold of some of the orig­i­nals...

Mi­nus the no­tice­able hair dif­fer­ences, how is it get­ting to dress in the pe­riod cloth­ing? Maaaaan, I love a good dress up! [Laughs] I love that era of work, but it’s very rare that you come across it in such de­tail. I think there’s also sec­tions of the play where I might not be wearing any­thing, so although I’m putting on a lot of stuff, I might also be tak­ing off a lot. I can’t com­ment too much on that, you’ll just have to come see...

That should be on the poster. You’d sell out... MAYBE! [Laughs hys­ter­i­cally] as our cover star last sum­mer. How was it be­ing half-naked on GT? I loved it! I wanted more! [Laughs] Re­gard­less of what char­ac­ter you’re play­ing, it’s al­ways lovely to be in a mag­a­zine. It’s a bit of an ego charge, but it also had an amaz­ing re­ac­tion from the fans. And for Paul [his Eas­tEn­ders char­ac­ter], I think it mar­ried quite nicely, too.

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