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.
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.