Interview: David O'Reilly on Lady Windermere's Fan and the return of Benidorm.
Inspired by the ‘superb’ Samantha Spiro (Guardian) and ‘dashingly funny’ Kevin Bishop (The Times), you won’t want to miss Kathy Burke’s ‘vividly fresh’ (Metro) revival of Lady Windermere’s Fan, only until 7 April at the Vaudeville Theatre.
‘Gloriously funny’ (Broadway World), ‘Jennifer Saunders steals the show’ (Sunday Times), leading a ‘roster of excellent performances’ (Sunday Express), including the ‘spellbinding’ Grace Molony (London Theatre) as Lady Windermere. Book now to avoid disappointment; ‘you’d be mad to miss it!’ (Telegraph). Best availability Mon-Thu.
The Oscar Wilde season continues with highly anticipated productions of The Selfish Giant, a new folk opera (10 – 14 April); An Ideal Husband (20 April – 14 July); and The Importance of Being Earnest (20 July – 20 October). Tickets are now on sale. Click here for details.
Davd O'Reilly tells us more...
Lady Windermere's Fan is running until April, when did you actually begin work on it and how demanding is it to be part of?
We rehearsed from the start of December, previewed in January, opened at the end of January and it runs until April. I came out of a musical I’d been doing for five years which was physically demanding and I would say this play is mentally demanding. Musicals are still hard work but you have to be so invested in a play, it is different.
How many shows are you doing?
We have eight shows a week and it is such an amazing company to be part of. We are so fortunate to be a part of it. It’s hard work but it isn’t like going to work if you know what I mean.
Kathy Burke is the Director of course, what is she like to work with?
I am in love with Kathy, she is the most maternal, caring person you could ever meet. Every single person is made to feel like they’re a lead part because of the care and attention she gives to you. She was so so so aware of doing Oscar Wilde’s work proud, and it really shows. Kathy is, and I don’t mean this in the sense of sounding surprised, but she is so decent and she is so invested.
The cast is incredible isn't it? What is it like to work with a legend like Jennifer Saunders?
Jennifer is my show wife, she is just so normal. You do forget that these people are humans. She has such an amazing love for her own family, her grandchildren. She is so down to earth, so caring and she leads the company really. She is obviously very funny but she is also very kind and very giving.
It's interesting to see such a well known cast taking on such a classic piece of theatre. What kind of audiences are coming to see it?
We are seeing a real mixed audience, some people come because it’s Oscar Wilde whilst others are fans of Jennifer, Kathy or Kevin Bishop so that brings a real mix which is great. I think Kathy has managed to direct a show which is so accessible that it has opened Wilde up to a new audience. My auntie went away saying she would go and read some Oscar Wilde books now, and she won’t be the only one to discover or re-discover his work having seen the show.
I don't have a bloody clue what goes on in Shakespeare. Would I understand this? Is it genuinely funny?
Sometimes Wilde can be perceived as elitist and highbrow but Kathy has worked so hard to bring together a cast who make this show so funny. What’s so great is that there are cast members who are the serious actors if you like, and then there are the cast members who are intended to deliver the comedy but equally the actors have funny lines and the funny characters have tender, serious moments too and perhaps that’s what makes the show so special.
Tell us about your role?
I play Cecil and he’s a bit of a git, he is the one who discovers Lady Windermere’s fan and until this point, he is never short of something to say. He’s a shit stirrer. He’s like the worst kind of showbiz journalist! He knows the gossip and he likes to be a vile about it and shit stir by leading conversations to make people uncomfortable. He’s a politician too so you get the gist! He’s so brilliant, it’s very different for me to play someone like this so it’s lovely for me.
I have to ask about Benidorm because you were so good in it. It's about to celebrate it's tenth year, how do you feel about that?
I’m so glad you mentioned Benidorm! What a show. I mean, ten years on can you believe it? I’m in the new series, I won’t say anything else but I do appear in it. I absolutely love it, and there is the ten year documentary on itv coming up of course. I couldn’t attend the screening but I went to the after party and the people that were there, you kind of forget how incredible the cast is and all the cameos and guests that make it so special. This one’s got like Bobby Ball, the Chuckle Brothers, Shane Ritchie it’s so brilliant, it is full of legends! I’m proud to be the first Irish character in it.
You must have some great memories of it?
I had such a blast filming Benidorm, you get the beni-blues when you’re not out there. Because it’s going on tour there won’t be another series for a while. There was this moment when we were out there and myself, John Challis and Sherrie went up to this town in the hills for a night out and on the way back, Sherrie just walks into the road and flags down this bus like Moses or something! You stop and think to yourself ‘I’m on a bus with Boycie and Sherrie Hewson and it’s mad, you could not make it up!
OK lastly then, why should people come and see Lady Windermere's Fan?
People should come and see the show because it’s a really funny and warm theatre show. Forget any preconceptions and be prepared to fall in love with it and really laugh. It’s a fantastic night out!