‘Misery’ by Simon Moore, based on the book by Stephen King, opens in the Lawrence Batley’s Syngenta Cellar on Tuesday 20 November and runs until Saturday 24 November. It stars Julie Amos in her first role for the Thespians, and long-term member and current president, Steve Marsden.
Romance novelist Paul Sheldon, most famous for his character Misery Chastain, loses control of his car while travelling through snowy Colorado. Waking up in a lonely, rundown farmhouse that is cut off by a blizzard from the outside world, he is confronted by Annie, his“number one fan”, who insists on nursing him back to health. His legs crushed, he has no choice but to depend on her, and soon discovers that this is not a comfortable position to be in….
We asked Julie and Steve about their roles.
What have you found most challenging and most rewarding about playing the characters?
Julie: Annie is a hugely complex character, who can switch emotions at the drop of a hat. It’s an extremely challenging role to play, trying to convey all the different sides to her personality and making them believable. That in itself is rewarding, as well as getting to slap Steve, of course!
Steve: I think the most challenging thing about playing Paul is having to portray a myriad of emotions whilst being virtually confined to bed. Normally an actor uses their body language as well as facial expressions and voice to get across an emotion or state of mind. Being tucked up in bed, however, restricts this process a lot, so I have had to use different techniques to achieve the desired result.
Have you seen the film? If so, is it difficult not to think about Kathy Bates and James Caan in the roles and to make them your own?
Julie: I have seen the film a long time ago, so I don’t really remember how Kathy Bates played her. It’s more her overall stance and appearance that I remember. I hope I’m playing Annie as the character I’ve got to know from the script. She can be quite vulnerable and ‘girlie’ as well and I don’t remember Kathy Bates being like that, though I could be wrong. I’ll watch it afterwards.
Steve: I saw the film around about the time it first came out, so quite a few years ago. Luckily, I only have a very vague memory of James Caan’s performance. To be honest I think it was Kathy Bates’ performance that was more memorable, so Julie has by far the more difficult job to do! Because we’re working with one of the Thespians’ best directors, Lawrence Barker, our interpretation of the play and of the characters are far different from the film.
You are performing in the Syngenta Cellar at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, which is a very small and intimate space, and the audience is very close. Does that make you nervous?
Julie: Of course I’m nervous, but I would be nervous on the main stage too. I think the cellar is the perfect setting for Misery; the audience will feel much more drawn in and involved.
Steve: I’m lucky enough to have worked in the cellar a few times in the past – my last show there was another two-hander, “Two”, so I’m used to the terrors and the buzz that a performer gets in that environment. I think the most terrifying thing, however, will be being set in bed as the audience come in and throughout the interval – I normally use this time to do last minute line revision and prepare myself backstage.
Steven Marsden plays Paul Sheldon
Julie Amos plays Annie Wilkes
Lawrence Barker – Director