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The Stage: An Interview with Harry Melling

As THE ANGRY BRIGADE fires into Watford Palace Theatre this week for the last leg of the tour, The Stage caught up with actor Harry Melling.

Read on for the article below.

Harry Melling - Headshot

Harry Melling shot to fame playing Dudley Dursley in the Harry Potter film franchise. However, he has since carved out an impressive stage career, which includes taking his self-penned one-man show, Peddling, from HighTide Festival to New York. He is currently appearing in the touring production of James Graham’s The Angry Brigade

Tell me about your role  in The Angry Brigade.

I play lots of different  people, which is something I’ve never done before. It’s something that terrified me because I liked the idea of hanging on to one person and making sure that story is charted throughout. If you’re playing lots of different people, you’re juggling a lot of different balls. Sometimes, I feel that when you watch that style of acting, you see the skill of the actor as opposed to  the character, so in that respect it’s a very interesting challenge to try to make each character as defined as the others.

You’ve also written your own one-man show. Is writing something you’ve always wanted to do?

I just knew that I had to write this story. It wasn’t necessarily that I wanted to be a writer, but I knew I had to try to tell the story of this kid I met when I was very young. But from that experience I’ve got another idea that I want to do, so it’s just a question of finding the time. It’s something that a lot of my actor friends are doing, and it’s a welcome change of pace. Having that power is the crucial thing. It’s completely yours, and you can make the choices you want because you’re the person at the helm. It’s a very different responsibility to acting, which I like.

Coming from an acting family, did it feel inevitable you would do this?

I grew up watching theatre – that was the thing I loved and I knew I wanted to do it. I got into it very young, and because I’d been introduced to it at such an early age, I kind of latched on to it. I’ve been very lucky really in having access to it so young. I’d like to think that had I not been within the same family that I’d still find it, but who knows?

Has doing film work as  a child actor influenced the way you work now?

It influenced me in terms of watching older people be on set. It confirmed it was something I wanted to do, but it must have influenced me in other ways I can’t tell you how or why. But I always felt very comfortable on stage, and when I was at drama school there was a heavy emphasis on stagecraft, which has been really useful for me.

What made you undertake formal training?

I really wanted to bridge that gap between being a child actor and an actor. I’m not saying drama school is always the way to do that, but it made sense for me. I always wanted to be as good as I could be, and I think drama school teaches you how to fall on your arse, which is exactly what I needed.

You can read the full interview on The Stage site here.

If you haven’t had a chance to catch James Graham’s blazing new play, THE ANGRY BRIGADE kicks off at Watford Palace Theatre from tomorrow, Tuesday 21 October until Saturday 25 October 2014.

(£5 tickets for under 25s available here).


Join in the conversation online:

#TheAngryBrigade @painesplough @TRPlymouth 


Beautiful. Startling. Shattering. Outstanding. Exhilarating. Riveting. Searing. Uplifting.

Just some of the adjectives used to describe Kate Tempest’s firecracker musical HOPELESSLY DEVOTED.

Our co-production with Birmingham Repertory Theatre opened last week and plays until Saturday at The Door at The Rep, before touring the West Midlands.

Here’s a quick round-up of the reviews:

“This tough, tender show is a sort of love story… James Grieve’s Paines Plough production is acted with a simple lucidity that, arrow-like, wings its way straight to the heart. And when the music and poetry kick in, the play sings and soars, a little shard of lyrical brilliance… the staging could hardly be more vivid… Tempest’s writing is raw, wry, sometimes deliberately unlovely; it’s also startlingly beautiful. And Wilkin is shattering as a passionate, gifted, brave and terrified woman for whom life and love have so often been a losing game.”
★★★★ The Times

“Wilkin, Laird and Ikumelo are tremendous – their raspingly textured performances perfectly meshed. Wilkin… ranges exhilaratingly through fury, terror, tenderness and strength. When she sings, the fragility and power in her voice are riveting.”
The Observer

“Outstanding… The writing is fantastic, with just the right balance of spoken word, song and dialogue”
★★★★★  The Public Reviews
“As much gig as theatre… the writing simply fizzes with truth”
The Guardian

“The women are drawn with all the care, warmth, humour and ear that you’ve come to expect from gallumphingly talented Tempest… she smashes it… Wilkin’s voice so skin-pricklingly good.”
★★★★ Exeunt Magazine

“Tempest’s play is a thing of passion and power – in her world music might not be able to heal all but it can bring hope.”
The Stage

“An intelligent, superbly observed play, filled with first hand insight and sprinkled with surprising and spontaneous laughs.”
BBC Shropshire

“A searing, witty and moving play well worth making the journey to see, if not at The Door, then as it tours the UK.”

Theatre Awards UK: Theatre 1 Football 0

All the winners at The Theatre Awards UK 2012

We were thrilled to attend The Theatre Awards UK last Sunday, hosted by The TMA and The Stage at the magnificent Guildhall in the heart of the City of London.

We were proudly supporting Duncan Macmillan whose play LUNGS – part of our Roundabout Season – was nominated in The Best New Play category.

The TMA does a fantastic job of celebrating the truly national reach of British Theatre. Nominees in its annual awards ranged from The Lyric Belfast to The Theatre Chipping Norton, via touring companies like Graeae and ETT, and celebrating the invaluable contribution of backstage, box office, marketing and management staff who make our theatres tick, as well as the writers, actors, directors and creatives whose work we see on stage.

As TMA president Rachel Tackley rightly said: “Regional theatre is going from strength to strength, and we should recognise and celebrate that success.”

Rachel also offered a suprising statistic: “With 30 million theatre attendances a year in Britain, theatre-going easily outstrips football attendances.”

So much for theatre being a minority sport.

We loved hearing Sam West speak so passionately about his parents Timothy West and Prunella Scales who were honoured with The Stage Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Theatre for their lifetime devotion to touring far and wide. And we loved celebrating the extraordinary energy and innovation of a nationwide industry bloodied but unbowed by funding cuts.

We also loved the salmon mousse, rack of lamb and chocolate soufle. Obvs.

The Best New Play award was won by Sarah Ruhl for her play IN THE NEXT ROOM, produced at The Ustinov Studio, Theatre Royal Bath. So congratulations to her, and congratulations to all the winners and nominees (but especially Duncan, we’re unashamedly biased…)

And congratulations to British Theatre collectively, in all its diversity and variety and brilliance. You beat football.

The critics get WASTED

As well as being the number 1 show to see in London this week (according to Time Out) Kate Tempest’s WASTED has been finding favour with the critics. Here’s a quick round-up:

“Performances are tight, punchy and second to none… the energy, the originality, the humour and the insightful observations make it an unmissable experience.”
Will Stone, Whatsonstage

“There’s a pulsing energy to performances and production, directed with flair by James Grieve…Tempest provides a welcome shot in drama’s arm… a talent to be harnessed, not wasted.”
Fiona Mountford, Evening Standar

“Tempest has created a layered lyrical portrait of a shared moment that’s so evanescent it’s in danger of slipping away…hazy expansive words rise and fill the stage with an atmosphere that’s thick with urban rhythms and blues…a slender, wistful three-way play that’s as seductive as smoke.”
Caroline McGinn, Time Out

“An ingenious whole that’s funny and true…dynamic poetry that’s full of vividly phrased acute observation…spot-on.”
Elisabeth Mahoney, The Guardian

“Phew, this hits the spot, and hard… a punchy, poignant and perceptive play about life… Tempest’s writing is smart and electric, all pith and wit…If you ever get the feeling that you’d like to live a little bit more, a little bit differently, a little bit louder, seize the day and grab a ticket to this uplifting and lively production.”
Evelyn Curlet, The Stage

“Bitterly funny…Tempest’s persuasive collision of realism and spoken word gig is given punchily paced direction by James Grieve, who with the excellent performers has tapped into a rhythm that rarely falters… Her words paint a vivid, pulsing mural of a city writhing with its own restlessness and discontent, yet straitjacketed by a numbing sense of inertia.”
Catherine Love, Exeunt Magazine

“Cary Crankson, Ashley George and Lizzy Watts seem to have jumped straight out of your life and onto the stage…a real blast of youthful atmosphere and energy…For the audience of twenty-somethings, Wasted aims straight for the heart.”
EJ Robinson, A Younger Theatre

“James Grieve directs it cleverly. He fills the stage with the paraphernalia of a rock concert.”
Anne Morley-Priestman, Whatsonstage ★★★★

We’ve been nominated!

We’re super excited to have been nominated for The Stage Award for Special Achievement in Regional Theatre as part of the TMA Awards, acknowledging our commitment to taking more plays to more places across the UK.

The panel said: “The company’s new artistic directors James Grieve and George Perrin launched their inaugural season of new work this year with an increased focus on touring the whole breadth of the UK. The current programme will reach 29 places across the British Isles including Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.”

We feel really honoured to have received the nomination, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed… the winner will be announced in early November.

There’s an article about the announcement of the shortlist in The Stage here.

More great reviews for our 2010 programme of work

We’re coming to the end of another exciting and very busy week at Paines Plough, and as we start to dig out our winter coats and cosy socks, must keep reminding ourselves that even though it’s getting chilly, the cold won’t slow us down! There’s loads going on right now, and we’ve also had some wonderful reviews for two of the productions in our 2010 programme, FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones and GOOD WITH PEOPLE by David Harrower.

Check out what The Stage said here about FLY ME TO THE MOON:

Oran Mor and Paines Plough asked Marie Jones, writer of FLY ME TO THE MOON some questions:

Is 45 minutes and max 3 actors easier or harder than 2 acts and a cast of ten?

45, 95, 125,……doesn’t matter how many minutes, none of its hard if you have a good story.

Should every play come with a complimentary pie and pint?

Not sure, I suppose it depends on the venue….I was in the Belfast Opera House last night and the majority of the women had vodka secreted in their handbags….there is a certain excitement in sneaking your drink into a place you’re not supposed to sneak drink into and not paying a fortune at the bar…although, can’t see anybody wanting to sneak a pie out of their handbag

What is more scary, contemplating a blank sheet of paper, contemplating a deadline or contemplating the audience at the first performance?

Blank Page is very scary… family know when i am about to write a new piece, the house is spotless and I   cook them really nice meals and take the dog walks…I know they know that  I am putting off the inevitable, but    they don’t want the pampering to stop, so they say nowt….As soon as I tackle the scary page, the house goes    to hell,  they eat whatever they find in the cupboard and the dog lies in a corner getting fat…I know my priorities.

In three words how do you feel about about the critics?

They’re human too.

Do you agree with Thomas Edison that “Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration?”

 He only said that when he was inventing the light bulb…That’s pretty hot work…I’d be sweating too.

Take a look at Joyce Macmillan’s review about David Harrower’s GOOD WITH PEOPLE:

“For a truly elegant, powerful and purposeful drama about the impact of violence on everyday life, there’s only one place to be this week; and that’s at the lunchtime Play, Pie, Pint show at Oran Mor, which this week premieres a brilliant new 50-minute play by David Harrower…In this terrific short duologue – performed with electrifying power by Blythe Duff and Andrew Scott-Ramsey – Harrower first acknowledges the connection between violence and sex, making the air between the two characters crackle with more erotic tension than I’ve seen on a Scottish stage in years…In this last of five autumn co-productions between A Play, A Pie and A Pint and Paines Plough, George Perrin directs with impressive grace and flair…And the whole experience comes as a sharp reminder of how, in the years since Scottish devolution, playwrights based in Scotland have tended to leave the specifics of Scottish life to the politicians, and to paint on a wider canvas; and of what rich dividends it can pay, when they focus once again on the pain, the potential, and the deep, deep resonances of the society on their doorstep.” ****Joyce Macmillan, The Scotsman

“Harrower’s dialogue is crisp, economic, and loaded with meaning…Duff and Scott-Ramsay both turn in riveting performances brimming with sexual chemistry and charged danger.”  **** The Herald

Send yourself to Coventry

According to Lyn Gardner’s theatre tips, Coventry is the place to be this week, and I’ll be heading there myself on Saturday for another yummy installment of A PLAY, A PIE AND A PINT.

FLY ME TO THE MOON by Marie Jones opens at the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry on Thursday 30th. Check out this lovely review of the play in The Stage.

Also mentioned in Lyn’s theatre tips this week is ESTATE WALLS at Oval House Theatre, by one of our associate companies Inner City Theatre. We all saw it last week and it’s absolutely brilliant, so get your tickets before it ends on the 9th October!

We’re a bit lonely at PP HQ now as the cast of LOVE, LOVE, LOVE have left our rehearsal room and gone to Plymouth to finish rehearsing before the show opens at the Drum Theatre on the 7th.

To quote a text from Simon Darwen, ‘Missing the PP crew too…not the stairs though!Looking forward to you coming down.The rehearsal spaces are incredible and the place is lovely and’

Rub it in guys!

The empty rehearsal room

The verdict on Tiny Volcanoes

There’s been lots written about TINY VOLCANOES over the past week, so here’s a bit of a round-up…

At Latitude, Alistair Smith from The Stage was pleased to see that “not everyone went musical“. Though he thought the show “not altogether subtle“, it “works well in a setting in which quiet consideration can be difficult” and was “lit up by excellent performances from Kevin Harvey and Michael Ryan“.

Laura Davis in the Liverpool Daily Post also noted the show was a bit different to the rest of the Latitude bill:

Tiny Volcanoes is a far cry from the work I’ve watched here so far – a mixture of gentle storytelling, mischievous fairies and an upbeat festival-themed rock opera. Wilson’s piece is angry, belligerent and very Scouse…Thumbs up to the Everyman and Playhouse for being brave enough to shake up the Latitude theatre tent with such a challenging piece of work.

Following the show’s standing ovation in Oxford, Lita Doolan in Oxford Daily Info thought “The clever use of contrasting film footage playing in the background marks an exciting new genre for theatregoers to enjoy,” and that “Laurence Wilson successfully tackles dark and difficult subjects… many complex layers build a compelling narrative.”

We’re much more interested in audiences than critics, though, so we’ve been delighted with the response to the show on Twitter. Here’s a selection of tweets:

@LatitudeFest Jonsi and Tiny Volcanoes. Both AMAZING.

Hello @painesplough Tiny Volcanoes was excellent. Sort of Shane Meadows meets William Wordsworth. (Though I hate ‘meets descriptions’)

I should welcome @painesplough to Twitter, and congratulate them on Tiny Volcanoes at #latitude – really fascinating & provocative piece

Latitude top 5: Jonsi, Byron Vincent, Tiny Volcanoes (Liv Everyman & Paines Plough), Great British Country Fete (the Bush), Black Mountain.

Highlights of the festival so far have been Kasidy, Mumford & Sons, Flo & the machine, Tiny Volcanoes and of course Guilty Pleasures!

Tiny Volcanoes is v well put together, slick,s trong performances. Liked it a lot. #latitude

Just saw ‘Tiny Volcanoes’ by @painesplough #latitude – interesting, provoking and dark. A lovely piece of theatre.

Did you see the show at Latitude or in Oxford? Let us know what you thought by posting a comment below.