30 years ago, teacher Clare Jacob performed Girl Lorna in Frank Vickery’s Spanish Lies at The Congress Theatre, Cwmbran. This May, now retired from her work in primary education, she is performing Woman Regietta in the same play for Newport Playgoers Society at the Dolman Theatre.
“This is only the second time I have ever been in a play twice and I think I am probably enjoying it even more second time around!” says Clare. “ It feels like a trip down Memory Lane, in a good way – I can even remember some of Girl Lorna’s lines from all those years ago!”
Clare has been treading the boards in community theatre for many years and she is no stranger to Vickery plays. “I love Frank Vickery’s work and I have been in a number of his plays including One O’Clock From The House, Kiss On The Bottom (I played the nurse in this, one of my favourite ever parts), Trivial Pursuits and Family Planning,” she says.
“I am enjoying playing Regietta immensely. There is a great camaraderie amongst the cast and the rehearsal room is full of laughter most of the time. The play is set in 1966 and 1991 and I admire the technical cleverness of this as much now as I did 30 years ago.
“Woman Regietta is a hot-headed, emotional character. She has been treated badly by her partner Miguel over many years with his philandering ways and economy with the truth and when the opportunity arises to get back at him, she doesn’t hesitate! It’s a gem of a part and the enormous height difference between myself and Ryan Hillier as Miguel should only enhance the comedy!”
Director Cat Rose describes Spanish Lies as “a wonderful comedy about the way that we can concentrate so hard on what we’re missing that we don’t realise how much we already have.
“The play has presented some challenges due to the nature of the concurrent storylines running through two different time periods,” says Cat. “It was clear from first reading of the script that it would be important to make sure the audience could tell which timeline each character belonged to, and that the pairs of actors playing each of the characters were easily identifiable as the younger and older versions of the same person.
“Ideally, we would have had hundreds of hopefuls to choose from so that we could get pairs of actors that genuinely looked like the same person 25 years apart. As it was, while I kept a physical resemblance in mind, what mattered most was how well the actors could portray the energy of the character, and rely on stage magic for the rest!
“The easiest way to delineate the timelines are the costumes, and our indefatigable Becky Phillips has pulled out all the stops to ensure that the actors are in clothes that suit the period, and also tie in with each other. From an acting point of view, we have picked out habits and mannerisms for each character for both actors to use, and used repeated actions and motifs to underline the feelings of déjà vu and similarity.
“I directed Windows by Alice Lynch in the playwriting festival last year. This was a much more serious work so Spanish Lies is quite a different challenge. Luckily, my very talented cast are hilarious, and sometimes the biggest challenge in rehearsals has been containing the hysteria so we can carry on working!
“I wasn’t familiar with Vickery’s plays before I read Spanish Lies so in the course of planning the play, I’ve done a lot of research and have fallen in love with his works – the way that he creates very real portraits of the Valleys’ culture that he loved, introducing just enough of the ridiculous and the farcical to be incredibly funny, while still dealing with very tender and sometimes dark themes. It’s a brilliant play from a gifted Welsh playwright.”
- Spanish Lies by Frank Vickery runs at The Dolman Theatre Newport, 10-13 May 2023. Tickets: https://www.dolmantheatre.co.uk