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TGtS Meets...Joanna Croll & Henry Luxemburg

Joanna Croll and Henry Luxemburg spoke to TGtS about playing Mollie and Giles Ralston in Agatha Christie's timeless classic The Mousetrap. Now in it's sixtieth year, the play's Diamond Anniversary Tour will be heading to Swindon's Wyvern Theatre this February.

How long have you been an actor? How did you get started? 

Joanna: I've been acting for just under fifteen years, which makes me feel very old. I went to drama school like most actresses do and then began my career after that. 

Henry: I actually went to school with Joanna...although we were in different years. I attended Rose Bruford College in Sidcup when I was eighteen years old, right after finishing my A Levels, I was there for three years and then started working after that, I've been acting professionally for about 13 years now. 

What's the best and worst part of being an actor?

Henry: The variety of work has to be one of the best things about the job whereas uncertainty is probably the worst. If I'm totally honest, when I'm not on stage, I'm working in other areas of the industry. Over the last few years for example I've worked in schools, and it's really exciting. On the other hand, I'd rather constantly be working but then you think, actually I'm experiencing so many other aspects of life - which is very special - so you can actually put a very positive spin on the negative.

Joanna: I like the fact that whatever job you're doing, a little world around that job opens up, if you start working on a play, the background to it is something that you can research, so every job is different and exciting, which I like a lot. I love finding out new facts and learning about areas that I previously knew nothing about. Not being able to plan a holiday is the worst, you can never make plans because everything always changes which makes life tricky. 

Who’s your favourite actor/actress and why?

Joanna: Mine vary, when I was a kid it was always Miranda Richardson. I liked how varied her career was. I used to love to watch her in Blackadder and then she’d so something dramatic and serious to shake things up a bit. At the moment my favourite actress is Olivia Coleman, probably for the same reasons really, she straddles comedy and tragedy so brilliantly.

Henry: I always loved and admired Richard Briers because he did it all. He did stage work, he did TV work, he did film work, he did voiceovers, he did adverts and I really respected him. I think that I read in an interview once that he was always worried when the next job would come along and that’s why he took on all of the different roles. He really reminded me that acting is good fun.

What can audiences expect from the show? Why should TGtS readers go along?

Joanna: I think that the most exciting thing about the play is that audience, particularly if they don’t know it, go on a journey with the characters. There’s lots of twists and turns, it’s not a play that you watch passively, the audience is quite involved and it’s funny because it’s such an old fashioned proper Agatha Christie classic, you’ve got the thriller element but you’ve got good British comedy too.

Henry: It’s a well-constructed British play, it’s clever, it intrigues, it excites and it surprises – I think that’s one of the main reasons that it’s stood the test of time.

Are you guys enjoying playing a married couple?

Henry: We’re very comfortable on stage together aren’t we dear?

Joanna: We are indeed dear! We get on very well and we’re both quite similar in our approach to the characters. We try and keep it fresh for each other.

Henry: What we do on stage isn’t set in stone, we try and respond and bounce off each other which is part of the fun of it I think.

Is it a daunting experience taking on a role that’s been performed so many times before? How do you prepare/how is your portrayal similar or different to other actors?

Henry: Honestly no, what’s happened before with this play isn’t actually relevant to what we’re doing with it. Although the show has been running for sixty years, this is our take on it and I hope and think that we’ve got it right.

Joanna: It’s nice to take on the tradition of the play and you’re fully aware of it but at the same time you want to leave your own mark. I think that our director was really good at hearing our interpretations of the characters. We were given quite a lot of freedom which was really nice.

The play was written in the early 1950s and has been performed for more than 60 years, why do you think it’s remained so popular?

Henry: Because it’s a good play, it’s a well-constructed, well written interesting play and it’s not easy to produce a piece of writing like that. The Mouse Trap is a very comforting play to watch, because although they’re dealing with murder and criminality there are resolves and everything works out…unless you’re dead! We don’t dwell on the death, it’s very British.

Joanna: Most of us grew up as kids watching Agatha Christie on telly and she’s still the best, audiences love a good story and that’s exactly what you get with The Mouse Trap.

Has anything embarrassing or unexpected happened to you on stage?

Joanna: Henry constantly kept knocking the lamp shade over the other night!

Henry: In my defence, it’s quite a small set.

Joanna: Aside from that nothing has gone dramatically wrong just yet, but we’re touring for a whole year, so watch this space! I worry a lot about my skirt falling off, I knowing it probably won’t but I do check it about 14 times before I go on stage.

What other parts would you really like to play?

Joanna: I would be an absolute dream to play Nora from ‘A Doll’s House’.

Henry: I just want to keep working, realistically period roles are probably best suited to me.

You’ll be in Swindon for almost a week, what to you hope to see or do when you’re not on stage?

Henry: Swindon is a blank canvas to me, I’m not even sure where it is geographically.

Joanna: You do know where Swindon is! We’ll have to find out what’s good on Total Swindon.

What do you usually do on your ‘days off’?

Henry: I run a lot, I love running. I also do quite a lot of charity work…I watered some public plants outside my house the other day for example.

Joanna: You’re such a liar! I’m quite into dance and fitness but I love doing all the normal bits and pieces like going to the cinema and catching up with friends.

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