Michael Condron | Interview

Michael Condron | Interview

Bruiser Theatre Company  • The 39 Steps 

By Conor O’Neill

Lyric Theatre favourite Michael Condron again treads its hallowed boards in Bruiser Theatre Company and the Lyric’s adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s spy thriller The 39 Steps. CultureHUB caught up with him mid-rehearsals for a quick chat about his latest venture.

His CV is impressive with stage productions including Macbeth, Much Ado About Nothing, A Very Weird Manor, Christmas Eve Can Kill You, The Interrogation of Ambrose Forgarty, to list just a few. TV roles have seen him in Fairytales, The Tudors and Game of Thrones. As versatile as he is hardworking, Condron has also starred in BBC Radio Ulster’s hit Number Twos, while the big screen saw him act in Keith Lemon the Movie.

Asked how he got into acting, he simply shrugs and says: “People just thought I would be good at it and it’s worked out so far.” Such humility can hardly explain his litany of constant and diverse work. As with most of director Lisa May’s plays, all four cast members play multiple roles demanding quick costume changes, accents, mannerisms, and a hands-on movement of set changes.

As to how he got the part, Michael explains, “I have worked on four shows with Lisa and Bruiser and I’ve done about 12 or 13 shows at the Lyric so it was the perfect combination for me to get back to the Lyric. My main character is that of a clown alongside Liam Jeavons, and those two characters embody the majority of the other characters of the play. There are no main characters as such, just a lot of different characters but at a base level I’m just a clown.”

With 139 characters featuring in the piece, CultureHUB asks about the technicalities of the show. Condron says: “The main part is changing characters very quickly. There’s one main scene were Liam and myself are playing maybe six or seven different characters every other sentence. We received the script maybe three or four weeks in advance, and there’s not a lot of words to learn but it’s quite like a dance at times because the movement has to be so fluid, so most of the work will be done in the rehearsal space.”

One would suspect on receiving a script an actor would research and deliberate over past productions and the movie, but Condron is quick to point out that, “I don’t do that as I don’t want to be influenced by other people’s work on the production, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking from past works. I haven’t watched the film or previous productions of the show. I like to work from my own ideas and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t well, it’s up to the people watching. We rely on Lisa so much and the success of Bruiser using this format that she’s so good at.” Speaking of May’s direction, Michael says, “With Lisa the set changes, which are great, are almost like another scene, very much choreographed and the four of us work hard to make the piece fluid.”

On theatre work as opposed to film, television or radio work, Condron explains, “Five minutes before a show you’re asking yourself why do I do this; it’s petrifying, but when you’re in a bar after the show enjoying a nice glass of wine, there’s no better feeling.” He is quick to add that during a run he never reads reviews: “Again, like I said before, I don’t want anyone’s view to influence what I and we are doing during a run.”

From a man who drifted into acting, star of many great productions but still getting the jitters before a performance, 29 March will see him and his cohorts bring a film and theatre classic to life. I know I’ll be attending, and going by the buzz among theatre circles, this is one not to be missed.

The 39 Steps runs at the Lyric Theatre from 29 March – 16 April

For booking details visit lyrictheatre.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890 381081

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