It’s hard to get your breath back when you are wear­ing corsets and talk­ing so much

Llanelli Star - - SPOTLIGHT -

Women are putting men in their place in a gen­der-switch­ing ver­sion of Shake­speare’s The Tam­ing Of The Shrew. Claire Price talks to MAR­ION MCMULLEN about tin­ker­ing with the Bard and the tri­als of moth­er­hood

You play the tra­di­tional male role in The Tam­ing Of The Shrew with Joseph Arkley as Katherine. What has the re­ver­sal been like? (LAUGHS) I love it, love it, love it. It’s re­ally fan­tas­tic. I have done a lot of Shake­speare and it’s nice this time to be the one who does the most talk­ing. Shake­speare has writ­ten a lot of great parts for women, but you some­times don’t learn a lot about their char­ac­ters. Now I get to be this per­son that can prop­erly ar­tic­u­late ev­ery­thing... and Petruchia talks a lot.

I also love be­ing the one that is a kind of sex­ual threat. I’ve not got to play that be­fore. Orig­i­nally in re­hearsals I was play­ing the role as a man be­ing very butch, very priv­i­leged and en­ti­tled, but this is a play about money and a sta­tus­rid­den so­ci­ety. There are two groups of peo­ple – one has the power and one doesn’t. And here it is the women who have the power.

How have you been man­ag­ing with the large wig and cos­tumes?

(CHUCK­LES) The wig is fan­tas­tic. The wig does the work for me re­ally. What I love about the cos­tumes is the men are in bro­cades and del­i­cate silks and the women are in these corsets and large, enor­mous skirts. It’s like El­iz­a­beth I had the power but still wore corsets and large frocks, only she just kept mak­ing them big­ger and big­ger.

It’s not one of mine, but I think one of the cos­tumes in the pro­duc­tion is made of car­pet.

Is the role phys­i­cally de­mand­ing?

I now have a baby girl and I re­cently did King Lear with Sir Ian McKellen, but it was mod­ern dress, so I could go on as Goneril in heels and wear­ing L K Ben­nett. I had to get match fit very quickly for this. It’s hard to get your breath back when you are wear­ing corsets and talk­ing so much. The first few times I nearly passed out. I just hadn’t done any­thing phys­i­cal af­ter hav­ing the baby. When I was preg­nant I didn’t even run for the bus. This has been a phys­i­cal fit­ness work­out.

How are you man­ag­ing ev­ery­thing with your baby daugh­ter Peggy?

AS soon as I fin­ish it’s down to the real work of the day, look­ing af­ter her. Un­til I had a baby I had no idea how much you can do on very lit­tle sleep. If I had insomnia be­fore I found it chal­leng­ing if I’d only had two hours, but two nights ago she didn’t sleep at all and I still did a show. (Laughs) It’s to­tally changed my ex­pec­ta­tions of sleep.

Your TV roles in­clude Home Fires, Call The Mid­wife and Re­bus. How did you get the act­ing bug?

I’M an unusual case. My par­ents (John Price and An­dree Evans) were both ac­tors and I re­mem­ber sit­ting in their dress­ing room lis­ten­ing to them per­form­ing on the tan­noy and play­ing back­stage. One of my first roles was when I was two and a tele­vi­sion se­ries my dad was do­ing needed a child and my dad said: ‘My daugh­ter can play that part’. When I was about four I was also one of Mac­duff’s chil­dren at Not­ting­ham Play­house in Mac­beth.

My par­ents had Shake­speare for break­fast. I was raised on it. My dad was in Strat­ford with He­len Mir­ren in the 1970s and my mother was here in the 1990s with Tony Sher and Peter Hall.

Was there ever a plan B?

I don’t re­mem­ber ever re­ally want­ing to do any­thing else. I had a brief fan­tasy about be­ing an astronaut, but you have to have maths to be an astronaut.

The Tam­ing Of The Shrew is go­ing to be broad­cast live to cin­e­mas na­tion­wide. King Lear was also broad­cast in cin­e­mas. Is it a dif­fer­ent dy­namic? THEY had a mon­i­tor back­stage for Lear so we could see what was hap­pen­ing. It looked like an Old Master paint­ing and it was so beau­ti­ful to see it on the screen.

It’s pretty ter­ri­fy­ing to do a live broad­cast, quite scary, it feels like tak­ing an exam – your act­ing is be­ing ex­am­ined – but it is a fas­ci­nat­ing thing to do and it looks bril­liant in cin­e­mas. Some­times peo­ple can feel like they are part of the the­atre au­di­ence and some­times it is like be­ing up on stage with the ac­tors.

Would you ever like the chance to play Katherine in The Tam­ing Of The Shrew?

I WOULD love it. Joseph Arkley plays Kate in our pro­duc­tion and we both know the parts so well and know each other’s lines that we could just switch char­ac­ters and then carry on.

I never in a mil­lion years ex­pected to play Petruchia and I would like the chance to play Katherine, but it would feel odd. I now re­alise how lit­tle Kate gets to say.

■ The Tam­ing Of The Shrew is be­ing broad­cast live in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide on June 5 and is on tour from Septem­ber 25. Go to rsc.org.uk for fur­ther de­tails.

Claire Price

Claire as Petruchia in The Tam­ing Of The Shrew

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