The Watermill Theatre are here this week with their unique take on Shakespeare, and we spoke to cast member (and actor-musician) Jamie Satterthwaite.
Jamie has acted in onstage in everything from The Duchess of Malfi to Nicholas Nickleby, and appeared on screen in Holby City and Mr Selfridge. He takes on dual roles as Orsino in Twelfth Night and Capulet in Romeo & Juliet.
These two plays feature modern settings and live music. Does that make them a good choice for people who maybe aren’t very familiar with Shakespeare?
“Definitely. And this is me speaking as someone who finds Shakespeare difficult and inaccessible a lot of the time as well!
“But we’ve got some amazing musicians in the company, who are also acting in it. And we play loads of different music – not just from the period, we’ve got some surprises up our sleeve with some more modern music as well. I think it really helps make it more fun, and it also means that you do know what’s going on.”
Do you play an instrument in the show?
“Yeah, but I’m like the least talented out of the group! I’ve played guitar since I was 13. But we’ve got some people in the company who can literally play eight different instruments – I’m not exaggerating! Our Sir Toby Belch is played by Lauren, and she’s got the most amazing singing voice. And she plays not only guitar, but also baritone sax – loads of different instruments. I don’t know enough instruments to even name the ones she can play. She plays three or four of those in our productions.”
Both of these shows are directed by Paul Hart, who has visited here many times with Propeller. What was it like working with him?
“Paul is just brilliant, and I’m not just saying that because he employed me. He just lets you try anything in the rehearsal room, and he’s really funny. He has all this experience with Propeller; they were such an innovative company, and I think that spirit, the boldness and freshness that they brought to it, I think that’s what he’s trying to do again with this group of actors, hopefully.”
You’re bringing two shows this week, Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night. Are you enjoying that experience?
“Yeah it’s really fun. I like to not know what we’re even going to do that day, whether it’s R&J in the morning or Twelfth Night in the afternoon. They’re both tonally quite different: Twelfth Night is a riot, a fun comedy with quite a lot of darkness in, whereas Romeo & Juliet is obviously a story that people know really well, so that’s really good fun to play off.
“My characters are quite different as well. Orsino is a lovesick duke and he’s probably more my age. Capulet’s a bit older than me, he’s sort of been around the block a bit, and he doesn’t want his daughter marrying some riff-raff like Romeo, he wants her marrying someone proper!”
And finally, do you have a favourite line from these two plays?
“My favourite line? Other people have got some lines that I really like. Romeo’s got some really good lines, up on the balcony and when he first sees Juliet. ‘But soft’ and all that stuff, I really like. Our Romeo’s really good, so he does it in a way that’s really interesting.
“Of the lines I get, I think Orsino’s first line is pretty famous: ‘if music be the food of love, play on.’ It’s kind of up there with ‘To Be Or Not To Be’ for some people.”
Romeo & Juliet and Twelfth Night are here until 10 June, and tickets are available now.