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“I couldn’t have designed it better if I’d tried”

8 September 2018 Emily May

Poldark star Heida Reed chats to us about transferring from screen to stage in her West End debut in Foxfinder, as well as the differences between working in England and Iceland, and what it’s like to be performing alongside Game of Thrones star Iwan Rheon!

Culture Calling: You’re originally from Iceland, can you tell us a bit about how it is to work abroad and how working in the UK differs from your native country?
Heida Reed: Well I trained here at Drama Centre London. I started working in England after I graduated, and I didn’t work in Iceland until years later. It was quite interesting to go back and act in my mother tongue – which I’d never done before – and in different circumstances. It’s a much smaller market, and community there. It’s brilliant, you get a lot of intimacy.


 
CC: Which I guess is very different to UK which has a lot larger industry?
HR: If you’re lucky to work enough in the UK you do often end up working with the same people. But it’s nothing like it is in Iceland, where if you’ve done a couple of jobs, you’ve probably worked with everyone. The actors, and people who work in the industry are like a big family, which is really special. 
 
CC: Is it difficult to act in different languages? Do you feel more comfortable performing in English or Icelandic?
HR: It’s strange. It was definitely a bit stressful at first. I remember asking the director of this Icelandic show I did to make sure I didn’t have an English accent when I spoke Icelandic! I had been acting in English for so long, so it was something I had to get used to. But Icelandic is still my first language, so it only takes me a week or so to get back in to it.  

Heida Reed starring in Poldark. Image Credit: Heida Reed via Twitter
 
CC: You’re most famous for playing Elisabeth in Poldark alongside Aidan Turner, but your latest venture is on stage in the West End. What is the draw for a screen actress to go back on stage, and what does it mean to you to be performing in the West End?
HR: It means the world to me. I couldn’t have designed it better if I’d tried, to be so lucky to come off such a brilliant show like Poldark and then go straight into the West End. It’s important to me to try and go back and forth between the three mediums of film, TV and theatre, which are all so different. The only similarity between them is that we’re telling a story. On stage, you tell a story start to finish with everyone in front of you, and there is a transference of energy that happens between you and the audience, which you unfortunately can’t get on a film set.

CC: Aidan Turner is also making his West End debut in The Lieutenant of Ishimore. Did you go and see the play, and what did you think of his performance?
HR: I did! I thought it was brilliant. I was so proud of him. I loved the play… he smashed it!

Heida Reed starring in Poldark alongside Aidan Turner. Image Credit: The Telegraph
 
CC: Your play, called Foxfinder, is literally about foxes! Can you tell us a bit more about the plot line, and whether it is at all allegorical?
HR: I can’t really get into the foxes themselves without giving too much away! But what I can say is that it is a dystopian thriller. It’s very fun, darkly comical and fast paced. There is a lot of suspense! It’s set in a totalitarian world.
 
CC: Who is your character in this dystopian world?
HR: I play Judith Colby, who’s a farmer in rural England with her husband Sam. They are behind in their productivity of the farm, which is very much monitored by the government. So, the government send this boy, William Blore, who is the fox finder, to inspect the farm and find out why they’re behind. And that’s kind of the premise of the play.
 
CC: But as you’ve hinted, there’s a twist…
HR: Yes. Blore is there to see if we have a fox infestation, because they could be to blame for us being behind. But there’s a lot more to it than that. It’s also about what each audience member will take from it, and how they will individually interpret the play.

Image Credit: Foxfinder the Play via Twitter
 
CC: What’s it like working with Rachel O’Riordan, who’s an Olivier winning director?
HR: She’s absolutely brilliant, she’s one of the most passionate women I’ve ever met. It’s incredibly inspiring and invigorating to have such a force of energy in rehearsal every day. She’s most definitely a brilliant, strong woman. Her vision is very strong. We’ve been very lucky to have her as a director.
 
CC: Iwan Rheon is playing the eponymous character of the Foxfinder, but is also renowned for being a certain super villain in Game of Thrones. What is it like to work with him, and is it difficult to shake off the image of Ramsay Bolton when you look at him!
HR: No not at all! I myself have watched all of Game of Thrones, so I remember his brilliant performance. But as soon as you meet him he’s so different, kind and sweet, that it’s very easy to separate the character and the real person.
 
Foxfinder runs from 6 September to 5 January 2019 at the Ambassadors Theatre, West Street, London, WC2H 9ND
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