Classical theatre takes centre stage

Claire Price, bottom left, with the cast of The Way Of The World
Claire Price, bottom left, with the cast of The Way Of The World
Richard Digance

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Along with frills, ruffles and an array of renaissance drama wigs, Claire Price has always been a fan of classical theatre.

Well-known for her role as Ken Stott’s sidekick in the TV adaption of Rebus, she’s also starred opposite Ralph Fiennes in Ibsen’s Brand for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and appeared in Volpone and Don Carlos, also for the RSC, and The Relapse and Cyrano at the National Theatre.

So, with a play full of double-dealing and seduction, she jumped at the chance to perform in Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of William Congreve’s The Way Of The World, from April 13-May 5.

Starring alongside The Good Life actress Penelope Keith, Claire plays Millamant – a young woman who wants to marry the man she loves, but it means losing her fortune.

Claire says: ‘The hero’s name Mirabell means admirable. Millamant means milla, for thousand, and mant means lovers. She’s a hugely desirable young woman. She’s one of the beautiful “it girls”, that’s the best way I can think to describe her. She’s terribly fashionable and an airess with a lot of money. But she’s determined to marry for love and is trying to find a way of marrying Mirabell and keep her money.’

She adds: ‘Marriage was a very practical type of love in the Renassiance period. She’s very witty, very sharp, very bright and she’s in love.’

Chichester Festival Theatre is putting on the classical play as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations.

Loving the role, it’s one of those iconic plays Claire had always wanted to take part in.

She explains: ‘It’s one of those roles for actors you dream of playing when you’re a young drama student. I’m loving it. Particularly someone like me who’s done a lot of classical theatre, it’s something to tick off and say you’ve done.’

Claire has never performed at Chichester before, but her actress mother, Andree Evans, performed at the Minerva Theatre in 1991.

Claire says: ‘It’s fantastic because it’s such a good part, in such a good place, at such a celebratory time. My mother performed at the Festival years ago so I spent some time down there then, but I don’t really know it.’

Claire also won the award for Best Supporting Performance at the 2011 UK Theatre Awards for her role in The Pride at the Crucible in Sheffield.

Talking about the experience, she says: ‘It was marvellous. Absolutely fantastic. I didn’t expect to win, so it was so exciting. It was perfect.’

n Tickets cost £10 to £36 from Chichester Festival Theatre on (01243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.