St Albans actor takes on The Tempest at the Maltings

George Edkins

George Edkins - Credit: Archant

Leading local actor, George Edkins is relishing his latest challenge with the Maltings Arts Theatre’s resident company, OVO.

The Tempest, which is usually set on an island, has been transported to a dark cell in the Tower of London where Prospero has endured 12 years of imprisonment with his daughter Miranda.

But having studied the wonders of Earth and Heaven he is ready to avenge his incarceration by conjuring up a great storm that will throw his enemies into his power.

George, whose stage debut was in 1963, playing the third serving man in Coriolanus at St Albans Boys Grammar school, found his way back to acting in his late thirties. He created a niche for himself in American musicals with companies such as Harpenden Light Operatic; his ease with the accent he attributes to having an American mother and spending time in the States.

He made a name for himself at the Abbey Theatre taking principal parts at short notice in both The Sisters Rosensweig and Poor Beast in the Rain.


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George is well-known locally, having lived in the area all his life, and recent memorable roles include Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing, the tyrannical father, Hobson, in Hobson’s Choice and the patriarch Arthur Birling in OVO’s acclaimed production of An Inspector Calls.

George, a father himself, has always wanted to play the role of Prospero. He said: “I think what attracted me to the part is his transformation from dark to light as well as the overriding themes of forgiveness and freedom. Of course there’s always the personal resonance; I too am a man with daughters and ambivalent about retirement.”

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George understands that audiences are always challenged by Shakespeare but is a firm advocate of the rewards, “The language is both a joy, and inevitably, after 400 years, a potential obstacle for an audience.

“But, when actors really get inside its meaning and use all their skills of intonation, gesture, body language, then the poetry and the sense become completely clear. It’s very liberating for actors and audience alike.”

The Tempest runs from from next Thursday, June 19, to Saturday, June 21, and then from June 25-28 at the St Albans theatre.

It starts at 8pm and tickets (£10/£7.50) are available online at www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo or by calling the box office on 0333 666 3366.

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