DNA day beckons as EastEnder gets his first Civic reception

Robin Ince
Robin Ince
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FORMER EastEnders actor James Alexandrou makes his Barnsley debut next week as a new season begins at The Civic.

The lofty lad who played Marin Fowler in Albert Square for 10 years is touring the country in the smart and highly entertaining drama DNA. And although James doesn’t have much to say in this tale of an adolescent prank gone wrong, the play – penned by Dennis Kelly of Matilda The Musical fame – shows a different side to the young actor.

James Alexandrou

James Alexandrou

“It constantly surprises me there are people out there who maybe see you only as a certain thing,” says James ahead of DNA arriving at the Assembly Room for three performances on Thursday and Friday. “But it’s really lovely there are a few who realise what this game’s all about. It’s about being able to explore and be creative.”

Since leaving EastEnders at the age of 21, James has taken roles in The Back Veil, Gertrude’s Secret, All Quiet On The Western Front, In My Name, As You Like It and Henry V as well as BBC Shakespeare. “Initially when I left I was a bit of an angry young man,” he admits. “But I’ve grown proud of what I did and it’s been lovely since because I have done very different things.”

First performed at the National Theatre in 2008, DNA is now a core set-text on the GCSE English syllabus, studied by 400,000 students.

What else can you expect?

For starters, Gonzo Moose’s inventive comedy I’m An Aristocrat, Get Me Out Of Here (June 1) will take you back to 1792 Paris at the height of revolution. No-one is safe and the city needs a hero in this show inspired by the Scarlet Pimpernel, featuring three actors in 20 roles.

Robertson’s Crusoe (June 14), Gavin Robertson’s new solo show, parallels Daniel Defoe’s classic novel. Exploring the musings of a hit-man isolated by his profession, the show, in association with Barnsley College, is a chance for Gavin to experiment.

Two days later The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists traces a year in the life of a group of painters and decorators as they renovate ‘The Cave’ – a three-storey town house for Mayor Sweater. Louise Townsend’s production of this music hall comedy is centred around the hardships of poverty in Edwardian England.

June 29 sees a witty and modern adaptation of Mark Twain’s satire The Diaries Of Adam And Eve, following the world’s first ever couple as they struggle with creating language and fire, taming nature and discovering love, death and laughter.

The unstoppable Reduced Shakespeare Company land (July 7) with The Complete World Of Sports (Abridged), the entire history of every sport ever played, crammed into a whirlwind show.

The Tin Violin (July 18) is a story of identity and belonging, drawing on the extraordinary life of West African violinist Joseph Emidy from slavery to modern musical aficionado.

There’s comedy on May 5 with Seann Walsh and on May 11 with Sheffield’s Cabaret Boom Boom mixing juggling, clowns, tight ropes, and a comic poet. Robin Ince jokes on May 18 and Canadian Tom Stade returns July 6.

There’s Irish music from Lunasa (May 12), Mitch Benn & The Distractions (May 26), and The Mandoliquents (June 9).