at Shakespeare’s Globe I found performing at the Globe quite mental; it’s an experience. I couldn’t believe how different it was from most theatres. It’s alfresco, for one thing, so you’re thinking, ‘Holy cow, it’s tipping it down with rain. I’m going to get very wet and probably have to shout my lines.’ You can see everyone in the audience: if they’re watching you, if they’re on their phones, if they’re leaving because they’re bored. The first time you see hundreds of faces looking back at you is extraordinary.
I’m always nervous before I go on stage. I kept thinking it would get easier as I got older, but it doesn’t. It’s thrilling, too. Someone once said that anxiety is only excitement without the breathing, which is nice as long as you remember to breathe. Afterwards, I’m so relieved. I’m at my most grateful at the end of a play. The only time I improve is when I’m on stage. You get the chance to perform every night, so if you’re not happy with it you can hone your character and do it again. There’s also the control of the audience, particularly if it’s a play with some laughs in it. You can sense how they’re responding and adapt your performance accordingly. It makes you feel in command.
I found the show so funny at certain points that I lost control and laughed when I shouldn’t have – but only about three times out of a hundred! One time Steve [Pemberton] had a custard pie thrown at him and a bit of pastry stayed on his face for the rest of the play. The audience found it very funny and that set me off.
I let the mood from the day bleed into my performance; it means the show is always different. And because I’m a mum to two young children I’m coming to the theatre from cleaning the kitchen or having Play-Doh thrown at my hair. Backstage I like to have some peace and quiet, or play music – I love Katie Melua.
Played Eleanor in the Vaudeville Theatre at