Call the Midwife actress Kate Lamb has swapped Nonnatus House for the luxurious Messina Hotel in a new Mafia-inspired production of Much Ado About Nothing where she plays Hero alongside TVpersonality Mel Giedroyc. Ahead of its run at Rose Theatre Kingston Fri 13 Apr – Sun 6 May, Kate chats about revealing the hidden darkness behind the laughter in Shakespeare’s much-loved comedy.
How would you describe this new production of Much Ado About Nothing?
We’ve set Shakespeare’s romantic comedy in the world of the powerful Italian Mafia – ruled by men, where honour is a matter of life and death. As with all Shakespeare plays, it’s not 100% comedy or 100% tragedy but there are elements of both and certainly in our production, we’re not shying away from the truth of those darker moments, in amongst some excellent humour.
Tell us a bit about Hero. Would you say you’re similar to your character in real life?
Hero’s a dutiful daughter to her father, Leonato and she’s painfully aware of her place in the patriarchal society she lives in. But she’s clever and knows her worth. We’re always similar to our characters by the end, Hero holds her tongue more than I do, but only because our situations are so different.
What appealed to you about the production?
Simon and I had a great chat in the audition room about Hero and her relative silence, her lack of words and how to find a way to make that make sense in a modern-day setting. I’d seen Simon’s work before and felt like Simon had a great vision for the play and it was going to be a lot of fun.
You played Nurse Delia Busby in Call the Midwife for three series. Do you prefer to perform on screen or stage?
Screen and stage are so different and I’m lucky to get to do both. I’m so proud to have been part of such a wonderful series, and I’m absolutely delighted to be back where I first fell in love with acting on the stage. Don’t ask me to choose!
What would be your advice to young or aspiring actors?
Read as many books and plays as you can, watch independent films, see all the theatre you can and make sure you find something else you love to keep you going.
Do you have any good luck charms or rituals before you go on stage?
You know, there’s nothing that’s carried over from job to job but with any one production I always find some little routine surrounding my makeup or costume or warmup. It’s specific to the theatre and the production. Although now I think about it, in every new theatre, before the first show, I like to touch every single seat in the house (this can be time consuming…) and then before each show I’ll just touch or sit in a few seats and check in with how the audience are seeing the show, and who I have to reach.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment on set or stage?
I once set down a tray of glasses on the wrong seat in a scene and then my cast mate sat on it and shattered glass all over the stage.
Why should people come and see Much Ado About Nothing at the Rose?
Come see Much Ado About Nothing at the Rose because we’ve made something very special for you. Yes, for you. And I’ll probably have touched your seat….
Much Ado About Nothing will be at Rose Theatre Kingston from Fri 13 Apr – Sun 6 May. Tickets start at £10 and are available online, rosetheatrekingston.org, by phone, 020 8174 0090, or from the