Bad boy Ben happy to be a cad at the Crucible

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BEN Lloyd-Hughes has played a lot of undesirables in a short space of time.

And the former Skins actor is first to admit he doesn’t fair much better with Mirabell in The Way Of The World.

The dashing chap’s reputation for fine wine and women hasn’t gone unnoticed by Lady Wishfort (played by Cranford’s Deborah Finley), indomitable aunt of the woman he plans to marry.

“It’s a kind of Oceans 11 plan I hatch; one last con to marry Millamant and get the money,” says Ben, more recently in BBC1’s Young James Herriot as Rob McAloon.

“We have this classic romantic comedy relationship where we drive each other mad, but everyone knows we’re destined to be together.

“I’ve been there with girls where the banter is so intense and so amazing it takes a while to stop and be real. That’s where you find us at the beginning of play. The play revolves around my attempt to marry her. In his world, money is really important. The plan is to get her and the cash, but to get a proper marriage I need to get permission from Lady Wishfort.

“What’s key about Mirabell is we find him at a point where he’s growing tired of the scene, he’s king of the bulls***, but he’s over it. His conflict is trying to break through a world where he is the king, all the girls fancy him and he’s the wittiest guy in the world and what he tries to do is revolutionise. There’s a sense of everything could change, anything is possible.”

Thanks to a combination of eccentric characters whose lives and loves interlink and language unaltered – even if the setting is present day – the play should find hilarity amid values that hold firm today.

“There’s amazing parallels you can make. When you think how shallow people can be now and about fops back in the day or people who were silly with their wigs. I don’t think there’s any difference to the fashion world in the 21st century or the pretence that you have to wear this and be like that.

“Courting ritual and social interaction is just as complex and pretentious today as it was then. It’s just a slightly different context.”

Although modern, the Crucible’s production will avoid social media and mobile phones.

“Letters were important back then in the same way an email or a text can be important today. And that’s what’s so amazing about the play and the text; we’re getting such amazing language and the relish of these guys. They say these things for a reason and they enjoy talking like this... you say how you feel and you say it in the most amazing way.”

And for Ben – a 2011 graduate of Guildhall School Of Music & Drama – The Way Of The World represents his first professional play and another quality addition to a CV that also includes the recent film adaptation of Great Expectations with Ralph Fiennes and Helena Bonham Carter and The Hour, as brother-in-law of Sheffield actor Dominic West’s character.

“I’ve played villainous rogues throughout my career so far,” says Ben, who was in the first series of Skins as evil Josh Stock.

“I was massively scummy and it was very risqué stuff, pretty dark. Those villainous guys are fun to play, but I am working my way up to being nicer.

“Mirabell’s a bad boy but he’s not evil. He’s got the heart a lot of other characters haven’t. He’s a scoundrel and he is a charmer but he sees past it all. He’s got guts. He’s got good intentions.

“Like Ferris Bueller, he’s bad but everyone wants to be him and he gets away with it. You want him to fool everyone.”