DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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So, what attracted you to the role of Alex in “A Clockwork Orange?”


I think the role of Alex would attract most actors, given the roller-coaster journey he is beset by Anthony Burgess. For myself however, the opportunity to grapple with such a unique use of language in Nadsat, as well as tackling quite an iconic role in cinematic & literary history was all part of the allure. Its a nice challenge trying to overhaul audiences pre-conceptions or conclusions of a well known character.


Do you find him a like-able character?


Thats a difficult question to answer, because for obvious reasons we we should hate him. However he lives by a set of rules & expectations that are quite attractive, his love of classical music & fashion, despite his humble background dismisses any high-low brow divide. His observations & critique on society ie; his awareness in the book that people are glued to their televisions, almost hypnotised by satellite transmitted programmes, are not to far removed from the truth & well beyond his years. He is always honest to the audience/reader/viewer as well. I think its this transparency, regardless of his mindset that also makes him attractive. Of course i could just be a tad TOO sympathetic to his plight given my inhabiting of him.


The role looks extremely physical. Do you have to be fit to play it?


The play is physically demanding, but then i do believe its important for an actor to be in shape so its all part & parcel of the job to be prepared for anything. A few extra press ups here & there in the run up to the festival won't hurt though i suppose.


How do you prepare for a performance and how easy is it to unwind afterwards?


As with the last question, as long i feel physically fit in myself i'm usually quite relaxed, I always feel very confident in the work ASJ (Action to the Words Artistic Director Alexandra Spencer-Jones) produces, so as long as i take a few moments before going on stage, for the good of my focus & to remind myself whats expected, then thats usually good enough. After a show its just a case of enjoying the feeling at what we've achieved as a company, getting something to eat or more probably something to drink. Clockwork is such a full throttle show though, its like being strapped to a rocket, even afterwards. So its just about enjoying it really.


Last year’s show was performed at the intimate C venue. Is it a help or a hindrance to perform so close to the audience?


For me its always more of a positive when the audience are so close, just because its nice to be sharing the experience so intimately. You can feel audiences horror or enjoyment so much more clearly. Inducing that same feeling in a larger space can be more challenging, however equally as rewarding if successful! So its actually quite a tough one to decide on. As long as bums are occupying all seats available, i think its important for the actor to adapt to that particular space for that particular audience.


How have rehearsals gone for this year’s show? Will you be making any changes to your performance?


The rehearsals have been fantastic thus far, the ensemble feel amongst the cast is stronger than ever and we've only just restarted! The new lads on board this year Damien Hasson, Matthew Crouzieres & Will Stokes are also all fantastic physical actors and will no doubt bring their own fresh interpretation and creativity to the piece. A piece is always liable to change organically anyway, especially after a break away from it, but i do know ASJ is interested in implementing a few new lines of dialogue and even adding a new physical transition or two, just to bring a new dimension to some of the characters involvement and Alex' journey.


What are your memories about last year’s show and your first appearance in Edinburgh?


I have so many amazing memories from last year that its almost hard to distinguish which make me feel happier. I think in general just the wonderful response from the audiences, of all ages and many different countries that hit me for six. We were fortunate enough to get some lovely reviews very early on and i think word of mouth appraisals meant there was almost like a buzz about the show. It was really infectious and endearing & just drove me and the other lads on to keep throwing as much energy as we could at it. I couldn't have asked for a better first time performing at the festival.


What did you expect from your trip to the festival last year?


We had previewed the show down in London for a week before coming up last year, and the feedback was incredible, so i knew we were onto a good thing. Apart from that, as aforementioned, i've such confidence in what i get to work up under the direction of ASJ and the calibre of other actors she casts, that i knew at the back of my mind, as long as we work hard to publicize the show and get bums on seats then we can make an impact.


How did the reality differ from your expectations?


It was an even bigger impact than i anticipated! I was quietly confident, but to be honest i genuinely didn't expect people to be so impressed with it all. I had people approach me after the show, full of the intent the speak, opening their mouths and nothing coming out! Others were excited enough to want to engage in in-depth conversations about the piece, drawing allusions to both the book & film, which thrilled me no end. Obviously with doing two shows a day last year, the other playing the part of Chiron in Titus Andronicus i couldn't really surrender to it all too much, as i had to keep my focus. However in retrospect thinking about it all, there are no words to describe how wonderful it is to be a part of something like that.


What is the best thing about the festival?


The vast spectrum of performance styles & genres on offer. Comedy, Circus acts, Theatre, Dance, Music, the list is endless. Its possible to go into a basement theatre space and quite literally be blown away by a theatre group from the other side of the world, as happened to me when i saw a young group from Japan do a piece called 'The Last Samurai', influenced by manga and implementing all sorts of physical humour, stage combat and sleight of hand stage trickery, it was like nothing i've ever seen before and was seemingly one of the quickest hours of my life. Its very hard to experience something that obscure, yet profound outside of the Edinburgh Festival.


What is the worst thing about the festival?


Hmmm, well the rain last year did mean the ceiling of my digs came in on me on the 3rd night of last years festival, leading to the building being condemned and me and fellow actor Simon Cotton living like nomads for a week. So less rain would be nice. That aside the whole things brilliant!



Roughly how many shows did you see last year?


Unfortunately with doing two shows a day, publicizing and moving digs twice during the run, i only got see a few shows, which was a shame as i wanted to utilize my C Venues pass more. However this time round, doing just 1 show a day and this time round having a Pleasance pass, i do hope to see many more! The two years previous to last year a came up just to watch stuff for a week on both occassions and saw around 4-5 shows a day!


What were your favourite/ worst Edinburgh shows to watch?  


Well as i say, last year was not a good year for show watching. Although previously i've seen some great stuff, as mentioned above 'The Last Samurai' was the best thing i've seen in Edinburgh, I saw the premier of Mattew Bournes 'Dorian Grey' a few years back which was ace and Stephen Berkoffs On The Waterfront which was a double whammy of goodness for me as i love berkoffs' work and i LOVE Marlon Brando & therefore the character Terry Malloy. Also The Caesar Twins are amazing, although i don't think they were there last year. I've seen a lot of forgetful stuff, hence nothing coming to mind, although i do recall going to see a funny piece about  rugby team called 'Foreskins Lament', purely on the basis that the friend i was with has a very crude sense of humour. It actually turned out to be OK as well. Of course i did see the 3rd show Action To The Word had up there last year as well; 'Constance & Sinestra', which was phenomenal, very Tim Burtonesque, gothic tale filled with beautiful musical compositions. I would suggest to any reading this to keep that ttile in mind as it had a London transfer last year & is currently in development now.


What were your favourite/ worst Edinburgh shows to watch?  


Money is tight as an actor, and time is also of the essence at the festival, so please don't think bad of me when i say i love any establishment that sells battered haggis sausages, particularly City Fish Bar where you can purchase two for about £1.80. As for drink, any bar with a license. (I might need to re-think the amount of press-ups required for this years run)


What are you most looking forward to in Edinburgh this year?


Attempting to achieve the same reputation and exciting the audiences all over again. Also performing at wonderful theatre space such as the Pleasance Forth & performing under the production of Glynis Henderson. We've just been booked for a small run at the Market Theatre in Brighton for september as well, so its almost like this years Edinburgh really will be the start of another exciting phase for myself as an actor and also Action To The Word as a company. I really can't wait.



You can see Martin in A Clockwork Orange at The Pleasance Courtyard

from 1-26 August at 15.40


Running Like Clockwork

People increasingly believe Edinburgh is a comedy festival. DARKCHAT

always try to see as many different styles of show that the Fringe offers

and last year Martin McCreadie deservedly won the award for Best Actor

for his mesmerising performance as Alex DeLarge in "Action To The

Word"s production of " A Clockwork Orange".


We caught up with him during rehearsals as he prepares to

re-create the role at the Pleasance Courtyard.