Naked ambition

Sian Thomas as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Sian Thomas as Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
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YOU will see a lot less of award-winning actress Sian Thomas next week compared with the last time she stood on the Crucible stage.

Around 25 years ago the Harry Potter star was appearing in A Passion In Six Days, a Howard Barker musical about the Labour party conference.

“It was on the main stage, had a huge cast with very distinguished people,” she recalls, “and I had to take all my clothes off and sing a song – two things that are pretty scary.

“The only thing I insisted on was that I didn’t have to do it simultaneously.

“I said ‘I’ll take my kit off and I’ll sing, but not at the same time’.”

In spite of that experience Sian did return to Tudor Square, to star as Ophelia in Hamlet “and kept all my clothes on”.

But from next Wednesday she returns as one half of a warring couple in a new production of Edward Albee’s American classic Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Sian’s role – as the acerbic Martha – was made famous by Elizabeth Taylor in the five Academy Award-winning 1966 film, starring opposite Richard Burton.

“You can’t compete with anyone really, but particularly them because they were extraordinary and it’s a wonderful film,” she says.

“This is a play, it’s different and it’s us, but if you’re there to just be different for the sake of it you don’t get anywhere.

“You have to ‘own the play’ and start from scratch.

“In a way you read it as if it’s the first time, otherwise you’re doing it for the wrong reason – the impulse is second hand.”