Gwen Taylor just has to admit it...she revels in being nasty.
“I love playing dragons and gorgons,” she said. “You don’t have to worry about being beautiful or being skinny. You just have to be rude. And you know from the moment you see her, she is going to be very rude.”
The lady in question is Mrs Bramson, whom she is playing in the new tour of Emlyn Williams’s psychological thriller, Night Must Fall.
When charming Dan arrives at old Mrs Bramson’s remote woodland home, he ingratiates his way into her life and that of her niece, Olivia. But when a local woman goes missing and is later found murdered, Olivia begins to suspect her aunt’s new private assistant.
All part of the nastiness is Mrs Bramson herself: “Emlyn Williams describes her as a common, slightly vulgar woman. I usually play very nice ladies, maybe ladies that have been hard done by. This is a change of direction!
“She is a widow. Or we think she is. She lives in the middle of a wooded area. She has got a bungalow, and there were not many bungalows around in 1935. They were built more in the 50s and 60s. But the point is that it is cut off from the rest of the world.
“What happens is that a policeman arrives and says that there is a missing lady. This lady was living there, a common person, even commoner than my character. She is described as having dyed blonde hair and a bracelet around her ankle, and she has disappeared. The whole thing is set up that there are very strange happenings in the woods, and the policemen batter down the undergrowth to see what they can find. There is a sense of doom...and then a young man turns up, and it turns out he has got my maid up the duff. My character is insisting that he must marry her. But he comes along, and he charms everybody. He has got charisma and charm, and all the ladies fall for him in different ways. My lady is too old to think of him, but she does think of him in a maternal way.”
“Half way through the play you know who did it but what happens then is you are wondering will he or she do it again. There are so many clues. People will have suspicions about the person, and it is about how safe it is in this house.
“It is 1935 and it works as a period play. I am going to be playing her in a wig in a rather Downton Abbey kind of way. I have decided that this lady is the kind of lady who likes to wear shiny things. She is a bit old-fashioned. It works in the kind of Edwardian style. I am in a wheelchair for most of it. I will just appear as a shiny lump in a wig!
“The play was written by Emlyn Williams for himself to play the lead. He is a bit like Terrence Rattigan. He was totally out of fashion until a couple of years ago, and now everybody is doing Terrence Rattigan. Maybe Emlyn Williams might come back in the same kind of way.”
From August 19-September 3 with nightly performances at 7.45pm and 2.30pm Matinees on Wednesday and Saturday, tickets from £15.50, to book call the box office on 01323 412000 or online www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk