Blue Heart Rehearsal Blog: Janet Henfrey

    We are privileged to have assembled a truly stellar cast for our production of Blue Heart, the first major revival of the work since its première in 1997. Janet Henfrey, who plays Mrs Vane in Blue Kettle, describes what it’s like working in such illustrious company.

    I get off lightly in this production. I’m in only one of the two pieces, Blue Kettle. It’s a small part but I love it. I usually play quite hard-faced old bags (the teacher in the Singing Detective and Queen Margaret in Richard III spring to mind), but she’s just a rather sweet, old lady. I haven’t played something like this since I played a dotty eccentric in the TV series As Time Goes By. She was quite an eccentric lady, obsessed with the shipping forecast but made a stunning cocktail. Mrs Vane is fun, light-hearted and refreshingly different from my usual casting.

    And of course it’s a joy to work with Caryl. She writes wonderful parts for women,and plays that are contemporary and relevant. I’ve known her for quite a long time as I used to live round the corner from her and we used to walk our dogs in the same area. I’ve worked with her once before when I was a part of a week-long workshop at the Royal Court, on Women in the Theatre. We workshopped a marvellous book called The Wise Wound by Penelope Shuttle — the subject of which was menstruation. Well, as you can imagine, we all had a wonderful and rewarding time with many laughs and a moving finale.

    I think it’s exciting to be working on a production that is also affordable for many. I find it very sad that so many young people are priced out of theatre nowadays, and therefore don’t get the chance to watch some of the truly great actors. It used to be two shillings and six pence (about 25p) when I was a drama student to get a balcony seat at the Old Vic. Of course, prices are inflated nowadays but the fact that Blue Heart has such a talented and experienced cast available to watch at such a reasonable price is encouraging.

    And the cast are brilliant. The work of the three leads (Andy, Amanda and Amelda) in the first play, Heart’s Desire, is extraordinary to behold. The technical demands upon those three are immense. The play is undoubtedly a sizeable theatrical task but all three are blessed with the physical endurance, mental stamina and sheer acting ability to pull it off. It really is like nothing else I’ve ever seen.

    But the production is ensemble-driven. Andy de la Tour is the only actor I have worked with once before, so it’s a great joy getting to know the cast and to create two pieces that feel very much ensemble-led. That’s important to me: acting is a team enterprise and you are interdependent on each other, and I feel so lucky to be working with some truly great performers.

    Blue Heart runs at Tobacco Factory Theatres from Thu 22 September – Sat 01 October. For more information and to book visit the main show page.

    Check out the rest of our Blue Heart blog:

    Meet the Director
    Meet the Designer
    Meet the Assistant Director
    Rehearsal Blog: Alex Beckett


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