What attracted you to the role of Helga ten Dorp?
I thought it would be really fun to play. She’s quite an eccentric and has a remarkable gift. She’s in and out of the action quite quickly, but I think she makes her mark! Also I wanted to work with Adam Penford, our director.
What research have you been doing to help develop your character?
To be honest, I’m not much of a researcher. There are times when it pays dividends – to deepen your understanding of the genre, for example. We watched some clips of movie thrillers from the mid 20th Century, to give us an idea of the style Ira Levin was drawing on. I think it’s most valuable to really explore what’s on the page in as much depth as possible, because in the end that’s what the audience needs to see.
What have you been doing with the dialect coach to work on Helga’s accent?
Well, I hope it’s not giving too much away to say that, with our director’s encouragement, we have moved our accent northwards, to a different continent from the suggestion in the play. Part of the reason was because one of the lovely people I’m staying with in Salisbury is actually from Helga’s original homeland of Holland, and I would be too embarrassed to merely approximate his accent. Also we thought it was funnier the other way!
Do you have any rituals or superstitions linked to the theatre?
I don’t go in for rituals, but I do like to adhere to the old actors’ superstition of not quoting the Scottish play (Macbeth) backstage. Some younger actors tend to find this tiresome, but I insist they leave the dressing room, turn round three times, knock, enter, swear and spit before the curse is lifted.
How would you describe Helga using five words?
Gifted, concerned, passionate, ruthless, ambitious
Deathtrap runs in the Main House at Salisbury Playhouse from Thursday 4th-Saturday 27th February 2016. For tickets or more information please call the Ticket Office on 01722 320333 or visit the website.