Known best for her screen work including Skins, April Pearson is loving the very different satisfactions which come from touring on stage.
The Case of the Frightened Lady heads to Theatre Royal Brighton from Monday, June 25-Saturday, June 30.
“You hear actors say it all the time, but I love the immediate response,” April says “You know straightaway if you have succeeded in giving people a good night out or not! And I love that feeling of delivering entertainment to people sitting there in front of you, which is very different to film or TV where you really can’t reach out!”
In the play, when Inspector Tanner is called in to investigate a ruthless murder at Mark’s Priory, the grand ancestral home of the Lebanon family, he quickly discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. The household is controlled by the family physician, the footmen behave more like guests than servants and the secretary Isla is afraid for her life. As Tanner moves closer to the heart of the mystery he uncovers a shocking and closely-guarded secret.
“We have been performing since January, and it has been really interesting, being able to tour to places around the country and seeing the different reactions, but mostly I think we have managed to fool our audiences! They haven’t managed to guess, and that’s the idea.
“You get a certain vibe from them. Some audiences really respond to the comedy. Some audiences you can really, really feel are concentrating and trying to work it all out!
“I play Isla who is a distant relative of the Lebanon family, and she has been invited to work in the household in order to pay for her family back in London. Part of the cajoling of her arrival is that she could become betrothed to the youngest son… and that’s all I can really say! But everyone is a suspect!
“There are some moments where people laugh in a here-we-go-again way when someone else gets killed, and there are some real moments where the audience jumps! But I would not say there is a real art to being in a thriller. You have just got to be aware of all the elements, I think.
“I have always had an affinity with theatre. I trained at the Bristol Old Vic youth theatre which gave me a working idea of being on stage. But this show is teaching me so much about recreating a performance every night. I have never done anything before that has been so long-running, and there is such a lot that you have to learn about looking after your voice and looking after yourself. I was thinking that I would be just working in the evenings, but there is a lot more to it than that, especially when you are touring and it is like moving house every week! But one of the great things is seeing the variety of the beautiful theatres that we have got in this country. We have been to some wonderful places.”
And yes, April would love to do more theatre now: “This is my first theatre tour. I just thought I had never really done it before. I have done a lot of screen work, and I found I had an affinity with this script and it was also very interesting to do something in period, which is not something I have done before. So I just thought ‘Let’s do it now!’
“I would love to do more theatre. You have got to start somewhere. I am playing a supporting role in this, but I would love to go on to bigger and better things.”
The play comes from the pen of Edgar Wallace, one of the most popular and prolific crime writers of the 20th century and the brains behind the film King Kong.