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Naughty but nice

Adele Silva in 51 Shades of Maggie
Adele Silva in 51 Shades of Maggie

Fifty Shades of Grey has topped bestseller lists around the world, so it was only a matter of time before a spoof arrived. Kathryn Tye spoke to the show’s star, Adele Silva.

It’s fair to say that comedy does not play a big part in Fifty Shades of Grey. There’s plenty of sex, but not many laughs.

But the bestselling book proved an unlikely source of comic inspiration for aspiring Irish writer Leeza Harker. Her Facebook-based spoof blog Shades of Mr Red, White and Blue went viral, reaching tens of thousands of followers in a matter of days.

Leeza’s work was then turned into three books, and adapted for the stage, with a sell-out show in Belfast at the start of the year, and successful runs in Glasgow, Dublin and Australia.

The show has just embarked on its first English tour, starring Adele Silva as working-class heroine Maggie. She attends an interview at the social security office, and meets Mr Big, who could be the man of her dreams – unless his “private room of pain” puts her off.

Fifty Shades of Grey was published in May 2011, the debut novel of E.L. James, a former TV executive and mum-of-two who lives in West London

The series has sold over 70 million copies worldwide, and set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, surpassing J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter series

A film adaptation of the book has just been cast, with Charlie Hunnam playing Christian Grey and Dakota Johnson as Anastasia Steele, expected for release next summer

Adele admits she was among those who devoured the original novels by E.L. James – which follow the relationship between graduate Anastasia Steele and young business magnate Christian Grey.

“I read them in a week,” she says. “They are a great form of escapism as the characters are so glamorous. But there are parts when you think ‘this is totally unbelievable’. That was one of the reasons I loved the script for 51 Shades of Maggie. This is real. It is very awkward, very funny.”

Maggie dresses in outrageous outfits, and goes through life making hilarious blunders. Adele said: “It is very rude and the language is quite shocking, but you forget about that because it’s so funny. Maggie gets everything so wrong, but there is that likeability about her. When I was coming up with the character, I was influenced by Stacey Solomon, as everyone likes her but she is also hilarious.”

Adele admits to finding the show more than a little daunting. She says: “When I heard about the job, I thought that would be amazing. Then, when I heard I got the part, I was like, ‘oh my god!’ I am on stage on my own, for almost two hours. But I am loving it. I haven’t done much comedy before, so it is great to do something new.”

It is Adele’s second theatre job of 2013, following a stint as Cathy in a touring production of Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, both a far cry from her long-running role as Kelly Windsor in soap Emmerdale.

Adele said: “I was in Emmerdale on and off for 12 years. I went back again last year for three months, and it is such a great place to work. It is really flattering that I get these phone calls to go back for a storyline. It is lovely to be in that position where she is a popular character and they can do things with her.”

Both Kelly and Maggie are feisty characters, but Adele denies that she is anything like them in real life.

“When I was playing Kelly, I would cringe reading the script, thinking, how am I going to say that?! But it is a kind of release. You think I would never get to say this in real life and I can do it. Really, I’m such a geek. I like reading and making things. I chill at home watching box sets and taking my dog out, and I am obsessed with wallpaper samples and decorating.”

Fifty Shades of Grey was a massive best seller. Library picture
Fifty Shades of Grey was a massive best seller. Library picture

After 51 Shades of Maggie finishes in December, Adele will going on to play yet another feisty female, panto baddie the Wicked Queen in Snow White at York.

She said: “This year I am playing so many different characters, and as an actress, it is just what you want. It is great to have something to get your teeth into.”

51 Shades of Maggie is at the Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells, on Wednesday, September 18 at 7.30pm (Tickets £20, call 01892 530613) and the Churchill Theatre, Bromley on Tuesday, October 22 and Wednesday, October 23 (Tickets from £21.90, call 0844 871 7627)

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