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Dartford: Ruth Rendell thriller Gallowglass starring Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Paul Opacic comes to the Orchard and Churchill theatres

By Angela Cole

It's a chiller of a thriller from the master pen of Ruth Rendell and comes to the Kent stage this week.

When Sandor snatched Little Joe from the path of a London tube train, he was quick to make clear the terms of the rescue. "I saved your life" he told the homeless youngster, "so your life belongs to me now".

Sandor began to tell him a fairy tale: an ageing prince, a kidnapped princess, a missed rendezvous... But what did this mysterious story have to do with Sandor? Joe only understood his own role - he was a Gallowglass, the servant of a chief...

Gallowglass is showing at Dartford and Bromley
Gallowglass is showing at Dartford and Bromley

The compelling thriller, staged by Middle Ground Theatre Company, whose recent productions include Classic Ghosts, The Verdict and A Murder Is Announced, comes to Dartford's Orchard Theatre this week, before also heading to the Churchill Theatre, Bromley.

It has a star-studded cast which includes Bad Girls, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks star Paul Opacic along with London's Burning's Richard Walsh, Karen Drury, who has starred in Brookside, Dean Smith (Last Tango in Halifax/Waterloo Road), Florence Cady (Crucible of the Vampire), Rachael Hart (Apple Tree House), Eva Sayer (The Turn Of The Screw) and introducing Joe Eyre as Sandor.

We met one of its stars Paul Opacic of Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, as the show prepares for the first of two local dates.

Ruth Rendell's Gallowglass
Ruth Rendell's Gallowglass

What attracted you to this production of Gallowglass?

Well, it’s a Ruth Rendell which is always good because she’s a great writer! All the characters are very well rounded and they’ve all got a history which is quite complex. There are lots of layers to Paul Garnett - he was in the armed forces but became a teacher and is now a single dad looking after his child. It’s a nice character to play as he’s as hard as nails but educated and sensitive.

Do you think he’s a bit of a hero?

Only in the sense of the relationship to his daughter – he’s a very good dad. He has been through a traumatic time; I think he is the traditional sort of hero, a very brave man. I don’t think he sees
himself as a hero, just a normal guy with a strong moral code - it just comes naturally to him.

You are well known for your TV roles such as Detective Superintendent Brennen on The Moorside Project, Carl Costello on Hollyoaks and Steve Marchant in Emmerdale. How does acting for TV and theatre differ?

They are completely different - when you are doing theatre you have got more of a creative process in the sense that you have three or four weeks to develop your character. You don’t tend to have
that with TV, particularly with the soaps as it’s very immediate, very fast.

Has it been good to be involved with the Gallowglass tour?

The best thing about this is that it is such a good piece. The cast are great as well, we’ve got some terrific younger actors for whom this is their first tour, so it’s going to be quite exciting to see how
they get on. It’s quite exciting in that respect, it’s a good piece, it’s a great cast and it’s a very technical show, so when it all comes together it’s going to be terrific! I’m really excited about this one.


Gallowglass is at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford from Tuesday, March 6 to Saturday, March 10. To book, visit orchardtheatre.co.uk or call 01322 220000.

The show is also at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, from Tuesday, April 17 to Saturday, April 21. To book go to churchilltheatre.co.uk or call 020 3285 6000.

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