Isobel Middleton, Much Ado About Nothing, Theatre, Shakespeare, Harrogate, Graham Finney, TotalNtertainment

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10 Questions With… Isobel Middleton

Her CV includes appearances in Eastenders, The Bill and much more and, next in her diary, Isobel Middleton will be appearing as Beatrice in a new production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. Taking a break from rehearsals, Isobel spoke to us about the show and much more.

1. Thanks for your time Isobel, how are preparations going for the upcoming production of “Much Ado About Nothing”?
“You’ve got me out rehearsals so that’s good (laughs). We’re in our second week of preparations and we’re digging into it and getting to know everyone. We’re a big cast and there is a lot of people to get to know but it’s going well.”

“It was a bit of a bumpy first week with Rees having to pull out but we’re back on track. It’s obviously put things back by a few days and we were all very sad that it happened but you just get up and get on with it. The thing is, when something like that happens, it’s better that it happens at the start of rehearsals than on the opening night. I think everyone has taken it in their stride and onwards and upwards.”

2. You’ve got the opening night in a few weeks then out on tour with the show after that. Are you excited about the tour?
“Yes, I’m looking forward to touring. I haven’t been out on tour in a very long time so it will be nice to get out on the road again and visit some theatres I’ve not appeared in yet. There are lots of theatres I haven’t been to yet like Scarborough and, having just moved up to the Peak District, I’m looking forward to going to places like Halifax and Huddersfield and York. I’m also excited about going to Salisbury because my parents live there so they’ve organised a minibus of the entire village to come to the show so no pressure there then! (laughs). They’re a great bunch I’m working with and I’m very fortunate for that. It’ll be a lot of hard work but it will be a lot of fun and it’s wonderful to be able to tour with shows like this and bring it to all these different towns and cities. I’m looking forward to the variety and bracing myself for feeling completely knackered!”

3. You play the character Beatrice, what can you tell us about her character and is there anything in yourown personality that you see in her?
“Yes, she’s a brilliant character. She’s a wonderful, self-possessed, free-thinking, quite contemporary female character. She’s one of Shakespeare’s great creations and it’s an absolute joy to play her and also a challenge. I’d like to think I have some similar qualities. My wit is not as quick as hers and that is something that in rehearsals where you’re thinking “I can’t think fast enough to be as witty as she is” but I’ll give it a good crack. She’s definitely, given the restraints of Shakespeare, as a female role model, a great character and I’d like to think I share some of her ideologies. I’d like to be as upfront and outspoken as her and I’d like to have a quick put down for every occassion like she can. This is good because I get to speak her words rather than my own.”

4. It’s one of Shakespeare’s well-known tales. What has been your exposure to the tale before this production?
“Funnily enough I have played Beatrice once before when I was fifteen in a schoool play. Obviously I’m playing it in exactly the same way (laughs). I am familiar with the story but the way you play a character in a school play is probably very different to how you play it when you are in your, ahem, middle years, so it’s been interesting to have it as a familiar play but to be able to delve into the nooks and crannies. It’s an interesting play in that, ostensibly, it’s a comedy but, at the heart of it, it’s a very dark story.”

5.I have to admit that my experience of Shakespeare at school was one that I hated every minute of. What about you?
“I was very fortunate in that I had a couple of really brilliant English teachers at school. I think one of the problems with Shakespeare at school is that isn’t very accessible so a lot of it is just listening to people droning on about it whereas we did tend to get it up on its feet. It was written to be performed, it wasn’t written just to be read. There was huge chunks of it that, at the time and probbably still now, I didn’t fully understand but, they’re wonderful stories and, if you can tell those stories they’re like the soap opera of their age.”

6. You’ve had quite a varied acting career to date. What has been your proudest moment?
“Oh wow. I think every time you hear you’ve got a job you should be proud of yourself and every time you can pay a bill as an actor that should be a proud moment. A lot of people I think assume you won’t be able to survive but you do. We do this for a living, we’re not doing this just for a laugh so I’m proud that I’m still doing and I’m still managing to earn a living from it and I’m proud to be part of a fine tradition of story telling and acting. I think it’s hard for me to pick one particular job that I’m proud of.”

7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given and what is the best piece of advice you would give somebody starting out as an actor?
“Oooh. You have two ears and one mouth, use them in that ratio. I think the best piece of advice I would give is that nothing is set in stone and things always change so, if you have the dream to do it then just keep at it.”

8. Have you ever watched someone in a film or TV show and thought “that role would have been perfect for me!”?
“All the time (laughs)! I think William Shatner in Star Trek. I wanted to be in lots of things and I still do and there are lots of people I’d love to work with. I’d love to work with Meryl Streep, who wouldn’t? Meryl Streep and Judi Dench would both be great to work with.”

9. Okay, apart from the tour, what are your plans for the rest of 2019?
“Well, the tour finishes in mid-June and I think my plans then would be to go and lie down in a dark room then return to my other life of gardening and walking the dog. Perfect timing if we have a Summer like last year. We’ve recently moved to a house that we’re renovating and it has been a bit of a building site so I’ve timed this tour perfectly (laughs).”

10. Thanks for your time Isobel and good luck with the tour. Last chance to plug it…
“Sure! Go for it! If you’re thinking of coming along then please do. To all the people who were put off Shakespeare at school, put that to one side and come and see a brilliant story. There is fantastic music, comedy, hilarity, brilliant sets, it’ll be a feel good night out at the theatre. There will be something in it for everyone and, if you do come and see it, you won’t be disappointed!”

Much Ado About Nothing will open at the New Vic Theatre, Newcastle-under-Lyme from 8 February – 2 March and will then tour till the 25 May.

For more info visit https://www.northern-broadsides.co.uk/whats-next/

Tour

Tue 5 – Sat 9 March – The Dukes Lancaster

Box Office: 01524 598500 / dukes-lancaster.org

Tue 12 – Sat 16 March – Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough

Box Office: 01723 370541  sjt.uk.com

Tue 19 – Sat 23 March – Salisbury Playhouse

Box Office: 01722 320333 / wiltshirecreative.co.uk

Tue 26 – Sat 30 March – Derby Theatre

Box Office: 01332 593939 / derbytheatre.co.uk

Tue 2 – Sat 6 April – Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds

Box Office: 01284 769505 / theatreroyal.org

Tue 16 – Sat 20 April – Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield

Box Office: 01484 430528 / thelbt.org

Thu 25 April – Sat 4 May – Viaduct Theatre, Halifax

Box Office: 01422 255266 / deanclough.com

Tue 7 – Sat 11 May – The Lowry, Salford

Box Office: 08432086000 / thelowry.com

Tue 14 – Sat 18 May – York Theatre Royal

Box Office 01904 623568 / yorktheatreroyal.co.uk

Tue 21 – Sat 25 May – Harrogate Theatre

Box Office: 01423 502116  / harrogatetheatre.co.uk