Ahead of the world premiere of Solace of the Road on Friday, Daisy Leverington caught up with its young star, Rebecca Ryan.
Solace of the Road was written by Siobhan Dowd and adapted for the stage by Mike Kenny. It is directed by Sarah Brigham for Derby Theatre. I caught up with one of its stars, Rebecca Ryan, of Shameless and Waterloo Road fame, to chat about the rehearsal process, TV acting and being a homebody.
DL: How are rehearsals for Solace coming along?
RR: Really, really well, we’ve got a tight unit because there are only six of us in the cast and we all get on so well. We’re into our third week of rehearsals now and it’s tech week, so it’s all going to be a bit hectic. It’ll be exciting to get everything on the stage now and play with lighting and stuff.
DL: Debbie, your character in Shameless, and Holly, your character in Solace both have a turbulent upbringing. Are there more similarities between them?
RR: Erm…probably yeah. Debbie was always the one who tried to keep it all together, she was very sensible in that way. I don’t think Holly is as mature, she’s a lot more vulnerable. Even with her sassy attitude she’s very easily led, whereas Debbie has her head screwed on.
DL: What are the differences in how you’d prepare for each character in terms of rehearsal time?
RR: It’s so different! I’ve done a few plays now but it’s still crazy. I started TV when I was 10 and you’d go in and rehearse a scene and half an hour later that scene will be done and you’d have moved on to something else. It’s very quick, whereas here you get three weeks to really delve into your character and get to know their backstory. With TV you have to do all that in your spare time.
DL: When you were Holly’s age, 14/15, did you ever rebel?
RR: No I don’t think I did, I’m a bit of a goody two-shoes! I’m too scared to get into trouble or upset anyone like that. When I was that age I was working on Shameless full time, so it was nice to go to work so much but still see my friends and I’m really close to my family. I’ve been home in between rehearsals for Solace, I’m such a home-girl, honestly.
DL: The book Solace of the Road has an established fanbase. Do you feel at all apprehensive about bringing to life a character who is already so loved?
RR: It’s really scary. It’s a brilliant book and a brilliant play and I just hope I can do it justice and not mess up. It’s a lot of pressure but it feels like our ‘own’ production, so it’s really exciting too. Sarah [Brigham, the director] has been absolutely brilliant too. She has an open-door policy, so people have been coming in to watch rehearsals. We’ve had young people in care coming in to chat to us as well as the Derby Theatre staff. Sarah has a strong vision of what she wants, but she lets us create our own ideas too, so it does feel very organic. Having the young people in was great; they were totally engaged and excited and some shared their own stories with us.
DL: Is there a role in theatre or on TV or film that you’d love to play?
RR: I’d love to do a period drama. Something like Downton or Mr Selfridge, completely different to anything I’ve played so far.
DL: Which actress do you most admire?
RR: My two favourite actresses have got to be Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson. They are just so natural, they make it seem effortless. That’s what I hope to bring to my acting, the total realness.
DL: Finally, just before you dash back off to rehearsals, what advice would you give to your character Holly, or someone in her situation?
RR: It’s a hard one, I’d like to say stop being so easily led, don’t put up a front for anyone and just be yourself. But on the other hand, I think Holly has to go on this journey to get closure. If she didn’t have the opportunity to explore her past she’d never be able to move on and close this chapter. She does go through some really scary times and some dark thought processes, but I think she finds strength out of it all. With stories like this it’s important to show both sides of the care system. There are some kids who don’t get a happy ending.
Solace of the Road opening on Friday and is on until Saturday 14th March at Derby Theatre. https://www.derbytheatre.co.uk/solace-road
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd, published by David Fickling Books.
• ISBN-10: 0375861246
• ISBN-13: 978-0375861246
Daisy Leverington - Actor, mother, expert at winging it.