Love, fish and riots at Ipswich’s Sir John Mills Theatre courtesy of Eastern Angles
- Credit: Archant
Christian Edwards wants to apologise to audiences coming to Eastern Angles’ Christmas show, Holy Mackerel and the show hadn’t even opened when I stopped by Ipswich’s Sir John Mills Theatre. The reason, his Suffolk accent.
“I’m terrible at it, it’s hard,” says the actor, playing Brassy and a few other roles. “To everybody who comes to see it I apologise because it (his accent) is terrible; it’s close to the Cornish accent. Luckily I spend half the time doing a posh accent.”
This isn’t the first time visiting actors have told me this, I assure him.
Co-star Mable Clements, playing Kiera, Alice and Mike (this is an Eastern Angles Christmas show remember), has asked people to give an example of a show that does the accent justice.
“Often people will say ‘well, actually, I can’t think of one’ because it’s just done so badly so often. I got told on the third day of rehearsal I’d have to do a Cornish and a Suffolk accent and I’m from London, so’s Christian. I couldn’t even hear the difference.”
Letting that one slide, we focus on what is working; rehearsals for the show - described as Blackadder meets Horrible Histories.
“That’s a lot to live up to but it’s so fast-paced... We’re hot on the heels of our cues so as soon as the line has been said the next line is already been thought.
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“I was almost going to say to my family when they come ‘bring some wine, it’ll be a jolly affair’ but they’re not going to be able to keep up with half of the jokes if they’re a little bit p****d. The jokes are thick and fast,” laughs Clements.
“Well, we’re not sure if they’re funny yet,” smiles Edwards. “We hope they are. We don’t know how audiences here react, I know there’s a lot of chances in it where audiences can get involved but I don’t know whether they will.”
Now several days into the run, the question of whether it’s funny or not will have been answered.
When interviewed, the cast were in final rehearsals for the show which sees the company team up with the Shanty Theatre Company to tell the story of how, in 1896, East Anglian fishermen were encouraged to fish Cornish waters on a Sunday because the devout Methodist locals were forbidden to put to sea.
It’s wackier than it sounds, with Edwards describing it as a frenetic love story involving fish, rioting, fighting and false identities.
“It’s this idea of a small community, their values and ideals, keeping the trade within their families and being proud about that; not allowing their heritage to be blurred and forgotten... But then being taken out of that context and plonked in the context of a modern world with lots of current jokes,” adds Clements.
Still worried it all sounds a bit too earnest? Edwards disagrees when I describe it and previous Eastern Angles’ shows as “the anti-panto”.
“You say that, but I think there’s quite a lot of panto stuff in it. There’s no celebrities like there are in some, they couldn’t afford Keith Chegwin, so they’re stuck with us,” he jokes.
“It’s quite farcical,” adds Clements. “I’m looking forward to all the singing and dancing numbers, the silly costumes. Luckily it’s the sort of show where if mistakes happen things can be made funny I feel.”
A straight-faced Edwards was looking forward to curtain call, on the first night anyway.
“It’s such a fast show. There’s so much to do and it takes a lot of focus with everything that’s going on. It’s just thinking ‘God, am I going to be able to do it’ actually because it’s so involved and it’s just nice going ‘okay we can’.”
You can judge for yourself as the show continues its run in Ipswich until January 6. It moves to Woodbridge’s Seckford Theatre from January 12-23.