Sheffield theatre role is a dark one for Martin

Martin Marquez in rehearsals for Blasted, Crucible
Martin Marquez in rehearsals for Blasted, Crucible
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Bill and Hotel Babylon star Martin Marquez is currently preparing to go to some dark places on stage in Sheffield.

He is starring in the play Blasted, part of a hard-hitting season of plays written by Sarah Kane that are coming to Sheffield Theatres.

Martin is a familiar face from several TV roles. Half Spanish, he played head barman Gino in the series set in a classy hotel and was also Danny Peace in The Bill in the mid-1990s.

He’s been on TV more recently in the comedy Job Lot, set in a Birmingham job centre, which has its third series coming up. He said: “I quite enjoy doing a Brummie accent as I’m from Coventry originally.”

Acting runs in the family – Martin’s brother John is also in the profession and his daughter Ramona played youngster Karen in the hit comedy Outnumbered.

Her dad admits there are some similarities between Ramona and the character: “She is very bright and would question and twist things around, which proved difficult to handle and deal with. It still is an attractive quality!”

He said of his role in Blasted: “I’m playing Ian, a journalist and sometime undercover agent. He’s trying to rekindle his relationship with a 21-year-old girl and he’s dying from cancer and liver cirrhosis.”

Preparing for the part has involved finding out how journalists work, looking at pictures of scarred livers and even listening to people coughing on the internet.

Martin worked with playwright Sarah Kane on her play Cleansed, which is also part of the season celebrating her work.

Sarah Kane wrote only a short body of work before she took her own life aged 28 in 1999 but she had a massive impact on British theatre.

Blasted was hailed as both a masterpiece and as a “disgusting feast of filth” by Jack Tinker in the Daily Mail when it was first performed in London 20 years ago.

The Sheffield Theatres website says of the play: “A middle-aged man attempts to seduce a young woman. Suddenly, there is a knock on the door and their world turns upside down.

“What happens next pushes us beyond the edge of our darkest imaginings, smashes through our comfortable reality and demands that we question our own morality and humanity.”

Martin said: “I think she’s a great playwright. I worked on Cleansed with her in rehearsals and then with her on stage for a few performances when one of the actresses had damaged her back.

“I feel that allowed me to ask her questions directly which helped me to understand her work a bit more than I would have done.

“I’m aware of what she considered humour in her pieces, that she really cared about the politics of it, that she was very interested in the idea of love in brutal situations.

“I understood that every word was chosen extremely carefully. Blasted was definitely a lot more verbose when it was her first draft. She just cut, cut, cut, cut.

“When you know that, you look at what’s behind three or four words, what‘s not written but still needs to be said somehow.”

Martin said he thinks the play is an important piece of theatre that needs to be seen.

He added: “I think people who haven’t been exposed to that kind of brutality will find it difficult to follow. But if there are people watching that have either had personal or close experience of it, they will understand it.”

Blasted is at the Crucible Studio from next Tuesday, February 4, to Saturday 21. Box office: at the Crucible, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000.