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Inteview with actress Claire Cox : Accolade

4 November 2014 Jessica Johnston

“In today’s society we are so intrigued by people who live on the margin and who live a slightly salubrious lifestyle. Those people fascinate us.”

Following a hugely successful revival at the Finborough Theatre in 2011, award-winning Director Blanche Mclntyre revisits Emlyn Williams’ gripping play Accolade for a highly anticipated second revival at St James Theatre this November! Amidst the chaos of rehearsals, London Calling managed to grab a cuppa with cast member Claire Cox ahead of the play’s opening to talk sex, scandal and the state of the nation.

London Calling: How are rehearsals going?

Claire Cox: We are currently two weeks in and they are going really well. There is a great rehearsal atmosphere and it’s been a lot of fun so far.

LC: So what’s Accolade about then?

CC: It’s about a very upper-class couple, Will Trenting, a very successful writer and his wife Rhona. At the start of the play, Will is about to receive a knighthood, however things become more complicated when his secret life is exposed to the public. Will’s wife is aware of his risqué double life, which inspires much of his writing, however no one else knows... until an incident between the writer and an underage girl attracts the glare of the British press. Will is left to battle against the exposure of his secret life and the double standards of a society hell bent on destroying him.

LC: Tell us about your character Marion Tillyard...

CC: Marion is a very close friend of the family. She loves spending time with them because they live a wonderfully bohemian lifestyle and she lives a far more conventional and restrictive life. But when Marion discovers the truth about Will, She finds it impossible to understand and is devastated at the possibility of losing him as a friend. This story is not just about an underage sex scandal, it’s also a love story about the support of a family and the choices that people make that are not always conventional.

LC: What’s it like to work with director Blanche Mclntyre?

CC: Blanche is brilliant! She is incredibly relaxed, very bright and really insightful about detail. She has a wonderful way of gently drawing out the detail in a scene and the deeper aspects the characters and what they are going through.

LC: What did you think when you first read the script?

CC: Well I just couldn’t believe that it was written in 1950 because there is so much in the script that is relevant to today. I found it so interesting that this family live a slightly unconventional life and yet as a family they all know what they are doing. There is something really modern about that even now. Also the characters feel modern, they don’t feel mannered or clipped or of the 1950s period, they come across as people from today’s society.

LC: How will this production be different from the Finborough Theatre’s original 2011 revival?

CC: It’s the same design and the same set but the feeling of the play and some of the insights into the story will definitely be different. Blanche is looking at this production with a fresh eye and of course a lot of the cast has changed so the actors will also bring different things to their characters. You definitely don’t get the sense that Blanche is trying to re-create exactly the same production. If she sees something new during the rehearsal process, she goes with it.

LC: Is it daunting following on from such a successful revival?

CC: I think because Blanche is approaching this production afresh, the cast don’t feel daunted. It’s more exciting than it is daunting... other than the usual feelings of panic one experiences during rehearsals when you’re not sure if you know what the hell you’re doing!

LC: Why do you think the revival of this play has made such an impact in recent years?

CC: I think it has made such an impact because it is a play written over fifty years ago, addressing the state of the nation well ahead of its time. In today’s society we are so intrigued by people who live on the margin and who live a slightly salubrious lifestyle. Those people fascinate us.

LC: What should audiences expect when they come and see Accolade?

CC: To be drawn into the world of a fascinating family whose story will perhaps make people think about living a more conscious and a more honest life within their own family. There is a real psychological depth to this play that will definitely make people think.

Accolade is on at St James Theatre from 12th November – 13th December. Tickets from £15, available here.

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