September 12, 2008

Doing Comedy is Not Funny ; in Association With DOC FICTORIA TV Favourite Stephanie Cole Returns to the Stage


ACTING in a comedy role is no fun says actress Stephanie Cole. "It's hard work.

You try to be absorbed in the role, but you have to be so aware of what the audience is doing.

It's much tougher than playing King Lear!" she laughed.

"Your mind needs to work on two things at once, know when someone is going to cough as you're about to deliver a comic line, you have to hold back, wait till people can hear the line fully. I've managed to fine tune it so I can predict the coughs."

She's taken on many rib-tickling challenges and proved an award- winning act when it comes to leaving audiences smiling. Recently seen as Martin Clunes' character's aunt in Doc Martin, she's also familiar from TV's Waiting for God and prisoner of war drama Tenko.

"I've been lucky with good roles and great plays," said Stephanie.

Latest among them is another comedy, Born in the Gardens, by her friend Peter Nichols, currently on a tour taking in Mold's Clwyd Theatr Cymru, and also starring Simon Shepherd.

She plays Maud, an eccentric TV-loving mum who shares the family home with her grown up son.

When the father dies Maud's other children return home for the funeral and try to convince her to sell up.

"As with all Peter's work, it's so well written, with hilarious moments," said Stephanie.

The role of Maud went to Beryl Reid when the play debuted in 1979.

"I saw her in it, she was so good," admits Stephanie, who has the advantage of being from Bristol, where the play is set. Married twice and now widowed, she still lives there, not far from her reflexologist daughter, Emma, 35.

"Because Peter is a Bristonian there's a lot of local phraseology, it can be crucial to the impact of a line, the accent can be a difficult one, but fortunately I speak the dialect!"

Stephanie's linguistic talents also include Welsh, which she learned many years ago.

"Great Welsh authors were untranslated in those days, the only way to read them was to learn the language. I've forgotten most of it, though I can still get by in shops.

More people speak it now. I remember going to a newsagent in Cardiff years back and speaking to him in Welsh, he looked at me as if I was mad.

"I do love Wales and Clwyd Theatr Cymru. You're lucky to have such a good theatre and Terry Hands as director. It'd be great if he were given a broader role also covering Cardiff's New Theatre, a role to bridge the north-south divide."


Born in the Gardens, Theatr Clwyd Cymru, September 22-27. Tickets, from pounds 13, 0845 330 3565 or www.clwyd-

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