Tim Hardy talks about A SUBSTITUTE FOR LIFE – a dark, extraordinary tale coming to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Name: Tim Hardy
Show: A Substitute For Life
Venue: Assembly Hall (Baillie Room)
Time: 12.35 PM
Length: 50 MINUTES
Tickets £6 – £11.50

Can you tell me about yourself and your performing background?
I trained at RADA. Early work was mostly in the theatre: a season at the Oxford Playhouse in a company headed by Judy Dench, RSC’s Henry V and Marat/Sade directed by Peter Brook in London and on Broadway, and then the film. Work in London includes ‘Mary Barnes’ by David Edgar, at the Royal Court, ‘Melon’ by Simon Gray, directed by Christopher Morahan, at the Haymarket Theatre, ‘Lysistrata’ at the old Vic, directed by Peter Hall. Musicals: ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at Her Majesty’s, ‘Judy’ at the Strand Theatre. Operas for Music Theatre London: ‘Marriage of Figaro’, ‘The Magic Flute’, ‘Cenerentola’, ‘Don Giovanni’. TV: David Manners in ‘Eastenders’, Jesus in ‘Son of Man’, Galileo in ‘Days that Shook the World’, Arthur Taylor in ‘Oscar Wilde’. Films: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Duellists, Nothing but the Best, Marat/Sade. Associate Teacher at RADA, directing (mostly Shakespeare) and on the Admissions Panel.

Can you tell me about your show and what it is about?
A new play by Simon Brett. The story of a man so traumatised by his Victorian upbringing that he lives a life entirely surrounded – and protected by – his books. But a family tragedy thrusts on him the kind of responsibility he cannot deal with, and a violent outcome is inevitable. Dark, an extraordinary tale, with much black humour.

How long have you been workig on this show?
Simon sent to me over a year ago. We opned at the Clapham Omnibus in May this year, and then played it in the RADA Festival this July. WHY IS IT RELEVANT While being specifically about a man in his time, like all good writing the play also explores how we so often wish to exercise control over others, and the sometimes desperate, sometimes very brave, sometimes hilarious ways in which we try to resist those who would oppress us. It is also about SEX.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
Don’t mind having your space invaded. See every show you can – if you’ve hated what you’ve seen so far – keep believing! You will see something unique to the festival which for the best of reasons you will never forget.

What is the funniest/most embarassing thing that has happened to you on stage?
Henry V at the RSC. Like many of my fellow young actors in the company, I played both French and English soldiers – 16 costume changes per show. I once helped win the Battle of Agincourt dressed in the blue of France. Later, I claimed I was playing a spy, which of course made no sense at all.

Who are your biggest inspirations in this industry?
It’s a very tough profession. I am inspired by the kindness, and generosity of so many actors who are are struggling, and the humility and level-headedness of so many actors who are doing well.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Going through all the lines before every show. A quick prayer to He – or She – who I think is out there.

What others shows are you looking forward to seeing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
ARE THERE MORE OF YOU, written and performed by a wonderful writer and actress – Alison Skilbeck. The fact that I am her husband has no bearing on this opinion at all. Also the Canadian acrobats ‘Flip Fabrique.’ They are superb.

Why should people come to see your show over all the others out there?
Simon Brett is a distinguished writer with more that a hundred books to his name, many of them lively thrillers, and this dark and sometimes quite shocking tale is a fascinating departure for him.

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