Close run thing
Mark Fisher talks to Robert Beck as he switches from Brookside to Romeo.
It takes a determined actor to turn down the temptations of a long-running soap opera, but after eighteen months in Brookside Robert Beck reckons he’s had enough. As Peter Harrison he came as near as the Merseyside cul-de-sac ever gets to a sex symbol (though an alleged rape kept his character on the ambivalent side of clean-cut) and it would have been easy for Beck to settle into a life of anodyne celebrity comfort. But the young actor wants more than that and his character‘s recent sudden departure to Oxford has happened, by an amazing coincidence. just as Beck takes up the male lead in the Citizens’ Romeo and Juliet.
‘A year-and-a-halfago I would have killed to get Brookside,‘ he says, ‘but after eighteen months it’s time to move on. It‘s a bit of a cliche to say you get typecast, I think you have to be there a good few years before that starts happening, but what does happen is that people start forgetting you're an actor and thinking of you more in terms of a celebrity. You start being asked to do personal appearances, opening things and appearing on Blankety Blank; as soon as people start thinking of you as a personality, they forget that you’re an actor and I hate all that.‘
For Beck, Brookside came just six months after leaving drama school. Apart from that, his CV includes little more than a Lloyd Cole video and a four-month theatre tour, so it‘s not surprising that he was keen to get back on the stage. ‘I rent a ﬂat, l’ve
: got no ties, I‘ve saved a bit of money to see me
1 through for a little while and it was the right time to get out,‘ he says as he re-adapts to the acting style
required for the stage. ‘l had to adjust very heavily
1 when I started doing the TV because it‘s such a
, completely different style of acting. I found myself
stomping on the set shouting a lot and this is not
l what you do on television; everything‘s quiet, small
and intense. Coming back here I've got to break out
. of that again now and work on projection and making
i expressions carry across the auditorium. On TV you
; just have to twitch your left eye and it carries.‘
Much as he enjoys television, the stage, says Beck,
! is where he finds the real excitement, responding to
the direct contact and immediacy of a live audience.
I Playing Shakespeare‘s love-struck hero is a particular challenge, just because it is so familiar. ‘Roles like
Hamlet and Romeo are always difficult to do.
i because everybody knows the character and most
; people know the lines, and somehow you‘ve got to
m“ ,44», '
make that fresh to the audience. You can‘t change the character that much; every actor wants to make it their own which is very difficult because you are tied down to what Shakespeare has written.‘
Giles Havergal‘s production isn't about to make any radical imposition on the text. but it will have a typically striking Citz design. ‘Coming out of Brookside I didn‘t want to take just anotherjob.’ says
Beck, ‘like a part in a little provincial theatre in Somerset. l was offered pantomirnes but I turned them all down because that‘s carrying on that soap star thing. The next job had to be a good one. The Citizens‘ has a reputation for being one of the best
and this came up about a month—aml-a-half before I left — I knew I was leaving — and when someone says do you want to play Romeo at the Glasgow Citz. you don't turn them down.‘
Romeo and Juliet. Citizens" T/H’tlll‘t’. Glasgow. l’ri 8—30130 0N.
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