Updated: Friday, 24th November 2017 @ 8:08am

Actor John McArdle chats to MM ahead of 'physically and emotionally draining' role in play coming to The Lowry

Actor John McArdle chats to MM ahead of 'physically and emotionally draining' role in play coming to The Lowry

| By Alice Richardson

Seasoned actor John McArdle will soon be showing off his skills when he tackles Things I Know To Be True at The Lowry in Salford.

Ahead of the production coming to town, he’s spoken to MM about his role playing lead character Bob Price.

With a film, TV and theatre career spanning over 30 years, McArdle has worked with writers such as Jim Cartright, appeared as Billy Corkhill in Brookside from 1985 to 1990, and more recently played Ronnie Hale in Emmerdale from 2016 up to this year.

He’s now detailed that when he first started onstage roles, he was used to very physical performances and would often have four-hour physical warm ups at the start of every rehearsal.

Now he’s a little older, the physicality of Frantic Assembly’s theatre ‘is much harder’ and ‘a really big challenge’.

Each rehearsal for Things I Know To Be True features an hour’s circuit training, then practicing lines and running through all of the intricate scene changes that the cast themselves complete by working perfectly in time and in sync with one another.

According to McArdle, the play’s writer, Andrew Bovell, is ‘very rigid in the way he writes in his rhythms’ to the story’s fabric.

The former soap star reveals that every small motion in the performance is timed to perfection, meaning that as one actor falls back to sit down, another slides a chair into place.

He explained: “Everything about it is thought through. It’s a trust with the actors you’re working with. The more you rehearse the more it starts to sink in.

“You’re listening for cues all the time. There’s a move I do, I lean at a 45 degree angle. Timing is everything.

“It’s physically and emotionally draining. The emotional content of the play, you have to live it, you have to breathe it using your own memories. And we’re doing seven shows a week.”

Of course, McArdle won’t be the only actor on stage when the play touches down at Salford Quays.

SEASONED: The actor has tackled roles in film, TV and theatre

In particular, he’ll be joined by co-star Cate Hamer, who plays his character Bob’s wife Fran.

McArdle is happy to sing Hamer’s praises and how well the pair have taken to each other.

The 68-year-old gushed: “We had to make that chemistry work as quickly as possible, embed that in three weeks, taking it from your own marriages. She’s such a giving actress.”

Things I Know To Be True sees the collaboration of two directors – Scott Graham from Frantic Assembly and Geordie Brookman from State Theatre Company South Australia.

Graham is known for his physical theatre, whilst Brookman is known for his textual interpretation.

McArdle believes they work well together on both the physical and textual elements of the play.

He said: “Whilst they’re both different, they’ve got the same goal and we all have a laugh.”

The play is primarily an Australian one, but is being brought to British audiences as a well-oiled machine.

John said the play is ‘a raw look at a family, it’s beautiful – a joy and a pain’.

The Liverpool-born star added: “You either follow your parents or you do the total opposite. Your relationship with your parents defines who you are as a person.

“It’s not sentimental. It’s brutally beautiful and so different from anything else I’ve done.”

*Things I Know To Be True is playing at The Lowry, Salford from October 3 - 7. You can buy tickets HERE.