“IT DOES feel like I’m sort of home,” said actress Claire Price about her latest trip to Sheffield Theatres to appear in the DH Lawrence play the Daughter-in-Law at the Crucible.
Claire, who is probably best known for her role as Det Sgt Siobhan Clarke starring alongside Ken Stott in TV detective drama Rebus, was born in Chesterfield and lived in a village called Stonebroom just outside Derby until she was seven. They were based in the area as her dad, actor John Price, was in the 1970s TV series Sam which was filmed in Yorkshire and her mum acted a lot in local repertory theatre. “When I was at school I was bullied for my accent. When I come back I find I naturally start to speak that way a little bit,” she said.
That has helped Claire a little to perfect a Nottinghamshire accent for her latest Crucible role, although she has an aunt in Nottinghamshire and jokes that she will never live it down with her cousins if she gets it wrong.
The play, which Claire said was written by DH Lawrence for the stage and one of only three of his that get performed, tells of a possessive mother with two sons. They live in a mining village in 1912 and Claire plays Minnie, the daughter-in-law of the title, an ambitious young woman who has had a career then decided to settle down with miner Luther.
Her life is thrown into turmoil when something about one of her husband’s past girlfriends tests their relationship to the limit. Meanwhile, outside the home strife, a strike is looming.
Claire said: “It’s really a play about boundaries and how families hold on to each other. Lynda Baron plays my mother-in-law and she is a formidable adversary. They spend a lot of time being acidic about each other, then there is a showdown.” Claire said that she had been a fan of Lawrence’s poems at drama school but wasn’t really familiar with him as a playwright: “I don’t really know the plays but I saw a production of this many, many years ago and thought I would love to play that part.”
She added that women of her age struggle to find roles suited to them: “There are lots of parts for women between 23 and 27 and lots of parts for women from 65 and over. Men, who predominantly write plays, seem to be most interested in young ones and their mothers. Women with children just remind them of their own wives, so from 35 to 50 all the actresses shuffle around trying to get those few parts available.”
Claire said she was thrilled to be back in Sheffield again. She appeared in The Tempest in 2002 with Daniel Evans, who is now Sheffield Theatres artistic director.
Merlin star Richard Wilson directed her in The Pride at the Crucible Studio in 2011, co-starring with Daniel Evans, who helped persuade Claire to have a go at her first musical, Company, on the Crucible main stage.
She says that Sheffield is a great place to appear in: “It’s the exciting nature of the work that’s shown here and the way it’s received by the Sheffield audience.
“They are genuinely proud of it.
“It’s very nice performing plays for audiences that don’t necessarily know the story.
“In London, theatre audiences are quite cynical. They see three or four productions of the same play so they are not shocked by it. They’re watching that director’s take on it.”
Claire added that she loves the quality of everything about plays in Sheffield, including the clothes: “I love the care that goes into the costumes. All that stuff really matters to actresses. I sometimes get that wrong and say I’m not going to look like that, I want to look beautiful!
“I’m better now at going with what the designer wants to see rather than me looking ravishing, more that it feels right.”
She said that she thought Rebus was finished now and wasn’t expecting to play the maverick detective’s sidekick again, “although I think Ian Rankin has written another one, so there might be a chance!”
The Daughter-in-Law is at the Crucible from next Wednesday, February 27, to March 23.