Claire is holding her breath for show success

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Actress Claire Price is really looking forward to being in one of her favourite plays, Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, in Sheffield.

The Chesterfield-born star said: “I’m finding out quite a few things about it at the moment. It’s a play I’ve always loved, probably my favourite Shakespeare.

“It’s the most human in the sense that people get second chances.”

Claire, who played Det Sgt Siobhan Clarke in detective show Rebus alongside Scottish actor Ken Stott in the title role, plays Hermione, the Queen of Sicilia, whose life falls apart when her husband, Leontes, suddenly becomes jealous of her friendship with Polixenes, king of Bohemia.

He accuses Polixenes of fathering Hermione’s daughter, Perdita, and has the child abandoned on a desert shore. Hermione flees for her life and her son dies of grief.

The baby, long thought lost, is miraculously found as a teenager, having been taken in by a shepherd and his family. Her mother, believed dead, also returns in the form of a statue that comes back to life.

Claire said: “I always knew Hermione was a good and stoical person, but she is even more than I’d imagined. In the scene where Hermione is sent to prison, her concern is for everybody else in the room, which is remarkable. She tells them, ‘Don’t worry or don’t be upset, everything is going to be fine’. Even to Leontes she says, ‘I’m really concerned about you,’ which I think is amazing.

Doesn’t that make her a victim? “Remember that she is a leader and a queen, so her primary concern is to serve other people and make them feel well. She has no needs in and of herself.

“Her role is to make sure that everyone else is properly cared for. Her lack of self-pity is a challenging one for me!”

Claire is working with a movement director to learn to be a statue, which she says is surprisingly hard.

“You’ve got to be able to hold your breath, like a kid trying to pretend not to be in the room.”

Claire said that the point of Hermione being a statue is not that she has come back from the dead, but is trying to find a way to make a comeback.

“She hasn’t come back from the dead. It looks like magic but isn’t. She’s kept herself safe in the hope that the child is returned to them.

“She gradually comes back to life without everyone having massive heart attacks. She tries to do it in a way that’s not distressing but healing.”

She is pleased that A Winter’s Tale is getting an outing at the Crucible.

“There are some Shakespeares that are over-done and as a consequence it’s hard to hear them again. If we have a young male actor who does well someone puts Hamlet on for him, so you stop hearing the play.”

Claire is also pleased to have a companion on this visit, her third to Sheffield Theatres in recent years – her cat, Tevya.

She said: “He’s called Tevya after the hero of Fiddler on the Roof. My partner’s a big fan of that musical. The cat’s turning into Topol, every day that goes by!”

The Winter’s Tale is at the Crucible from next Wednesday to November 2. Box office: 
0114 2496000 or go to www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk