With only two days left until the opening night of The Heretic, director Chris Honer talks about how small details can reveal a lot about the characters in the play.
The great actor Beryl Reid said that, when she was creating a character, the first and most important thing to get right was the shoes. This came to me today when Cate Hamer and I were puzzling over why the character she plays (Diane, the scientist whose ‘heretical’ views provoke all the conflicts in this terrific play), seemed to change in the play’s domestic second half. Diane, in her own house, seemed to lose status, and to be less of a force to be reckoned with.
Of course we become slightly different people when we’re at work and when we’re at home, with colleagues and with friends and family. But this character change for Diane seemed at times to lessen her impact in ways damaging to the scene. What to do?
And then it came to us. It was the shoes that were the culprits. The flat slippers (a Christmas present? The scene is set on Boxing Day) didn’t give her the physical support to enhance her status. They made her move in a different way to the heels in which she runs her meetings and tutorials in the office in the play’s first half. So they will be changed.
Today was our last day in the rehearsal room so, after a good run-through and some brief notes, I was off to the Lowry to see the progress on the fit-up for the set. This is always a scary moment. You’ve worked for four weeks in a rehearsal room with ground plans, and photographs of the set model, but you never really know until you see the actual set whether it will be like the one you’ve been imagining. Well, glory be, this one is. Some of the paintwork needs to be adjusted (the beams in Diane’s converted barn kitchen have a touch of the panto about them at the moment) but it looks great and moves around the stage very smoothly.
The Heretic opens on Thursday 27 September at the Lowry and runs until Saturday 13 October. You can book tickets here.