It’s the second week of rehearsals for Sharon ‘n’ Barry Do ‘Romeo & Juliet’, our up-coming new everyday comedy. We had a chat with David Nellist who plays Barry. He gives us an insight into the rehearsal process and creating a production for Zoom.
ARE YOU ENJOYING BEING BACK AT THE QUEEN’S?
I love it! I don’t notice it so much in the rehearsal room but when we break, put the masks on and go to our Dressing Rooms, rather than the Green Room, I do notice it and it’s a little bit more isolating, so I miss that social side things. I also miss the ‘welcome back’ hugs. However, it’s really nice to be back!
WHAT SURPRISED YOU ABOUT REHEARSING FOR A ZOOM PRODUCTION COMPARED TO A STAGE SHOW?
It’s quite a complicated production already because it’s like a double play. We’re playing Sharon and Barry who are playing the characters in Romeo and Juliet. So sometimes as you’re rehearsing, you’ll feel like that felt like Barry playing Romeo but then ahh…. you’re out of shot, so then you have to change that.
Also, all the things that you normally must hide from the audience like the props and costume changes, now just must happen out of shot rather than in the wings, so that’s different.
It’s anarchic which is good, the way we’re having to solve the problems. You get to a scene where there is three characters in it, and we as actors are quite used to doing that and improvising. Sharon and Barry wouldn’t be, so what will they do when they discover that they’ve got to play two characters in one scene, how would they approach it? That’s the ingenious and funny part about it.
It’s been quite fun to use the different tools of Zoom like different backgrounds. There’s a lot of humour to be had.
HOW HAS IT BEEN REHEARSING WITH YOUR ‘NIECE/NEPHEW’?
We met them on the first day in person and then we’ve only seen them over Zoom since. James Watson has obviously been doing great work with them in between the rehearsal sessions because when they come back, you can see that their performance is so much better than the last time we heard it. And of course, Jack was in Macbeth so it’s nice to be working with him again. They’re both really blossoming. It’s great to see young actors gaining their confidence. One of them performs their part and then you’ll see that the other one realises that they’ve got to raise their game a little more. They sort of buoy each other up.
THIS PIECE HAS BEEN DEVELOPED DURING REHEARSALS AND IMPROVISED. THE CONCEPT WAS THERE BUT THE SCRIPT IS BEING CREATED IN THE REHEARSAL ROOM. HOW ARE YOU FINDING THAT PROCESS?
There’s still a lot of Shakespeare that we’ve had to learn but this is harder because we’re playing multiply characters. I’m playing Romeo, then the Nurse and then Romeo again, and you’re talking to yourself back and forth whilst also remembering which costume you’ve got to have on for the next scene. Then Doug, the Director, will remind me that I forgot to put the music on!
The interaction between Sharon and Barry really developed from day one. Doug told us from the start what he wanted us to mention and then we improvised around it. Gradually Doug has recorded what we’ve said and then told us what to keep and what to cut. We now know the characters quite well. We know when it feels wrong and when they wouldn’t be saying or doing that. The modern parts aren’t going to be 100% scripted, it will be slightly different at every performance.
WHY SHOULD PEOPLE SEE THIS SHOW?
First and foremost, it’s funny! If you know Romeo and Juliet, it’s a different way to how you would traditionally view it. If you don’t know the play, it doesn’t matter, it’s a nice story. It’s a bittersweet comedy and there’s a lot of love in the show. We all need that at the moment!
AND FINALLY, WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING IN BBC ONE’S SHERLOCK?
It was good…, it’s just good TV. I feel a sense of pride about the show because, as well as being in some later episodes, I was in the pilot when nobody knew if it was going to work at all. People thought that it should be set in Victorian London with foggy streets but when the show went out, it just grew. Martin and Benedict are both so good it in that you couldn’t imagine anyone else playing those roles, which is always the mark of good telly. They’re such nice lads, really lovely lads.