When she was 16, Denise Black didn’t know what she wanted to be when she was older – but it was her friendship with actress Phyllida Clark which set her on the path of acting.
Now a television regular, Denise will be taking a break from filming Emmerdale to come back to Portsmouth and do a reading of Phyllida’s play Waterloo to mark the famous battle’s 200th anniversary.
There aren’t many women in battles, which is why I’m narratingDenise Black
The performance will take place at the Square Tower on Sunday. This production began its life as a call Denise received from Phyllida’s son James.
‘He said he had found this script in the loft about the Battle of Waterloo that his mother had written, and asked if I wanted to perform it for the anniversary.
‘It was short notice but I thought it was a great idea, and here we are.’
Denise will be taking on the role of narrator, originated by Phyllida in 1979 as part of the Portsmouth Festival.
She says: ‘I introduce the stories and the boys do the rest of the work. They play generals, members of Parliament, soldiers, right down to the everyman.
‘There aren’t many women in battles, which is why I’m narrating,’ she jokes.
Alongside her star Patric Howe and Henry Oastler.
Phyllida researched the battle and used the accounts she discovered to form the play.
It is mainly set from a British point of view, with glimpses of the French perspective.
Denise says this dramatisation of real historical accounts makes the subject matter more interesting.
‘History can be a bit dull,’ she says, ‘but I love it when you are hearing from first-hand accounts – I think that makes all the difference.’
She adds: ‘It is not a lecture – it is alive in front of you.
‘You will see how the soldiers felt going into battle; you will hear about the parties they had beforehand... parties before battle!’
Waterloo by New Apollo is at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth on Sunday at 1pm. Doors open at midday, tickets cost £10. Visit thecellars.co.uk to book.