West heading in various directions

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DOMINIC West could arguably do with have a body double right now.

As well as starring in two of TVs biggest hits – including a controversial drama centred on serial killer Fred West – he’s had to combine a brace of stage roles, preparing for a new Sheffield production of Othello while concluding his run in a West End play.

The Sheffield-born actor and former star of cult US police series The Wire is in buoyant mood, however, when we speak in Tudor Square.

West is now in advanced rehearsals as Iago having juggled learning the script while performing in Butley until last weekend.

Othello casts him alongside fellow former Wire star Clarke Peters who was asked by Sheffield Theatres artistic director Daniel Evans to appear in the play that he directs.

Baiting each other in interview, it is clear the pair have a strong bond which often spills over into laughter.

“There’s only one person I’d do this with here. Fortunately he’s not here. I’m still waiting for his call to come in,” quips Clarke, immediately setting up what could evolve into an enduring double act.

“He wasn’t available so Daniel suggested me and Clarke eventually overcame his reservations,” replies Dominic.

“He likes to do three jobs at once so he usually has a window for something.”

The comment brings more laughs as Clarke adds: “I’m trying to encourage my ‘brother’ to do the same as I figured while he was in the middle of doing Butley this’ll jam him up, give him miles and reams of text to learn while he’s already doing miles and reams of text.”

Whatever the banter, casting West and Peters has turned Othello into a dream ticket that has created similar demand as John Simm in Hamlet, last year at the Crucible.

“It is such a huge play,” says West, who began work on Othello in London before rehearsals shifted to Sheffield.

“The great thing about Daniel is he’s a great performer himself, so he obviously knows what’s required and you have confidence he’s going to get us there. Within that he’s sympathetic.”

West has a slight former affiliation with the director in that he attended the same drama school.

“I was two years below him so I didn’t really know him at all then. I think I saw him play Ariel once, but I didn’t know him until Clarke rang me up to say come and play Iago.”

While West, a former pupil of Broomhill’s Westbourne School and now a father himself, needed little persuading to join Clarke in Sheffield, it seems he has had to defend his decision to appear as Fred West in Appropriate Adult, which concludes on ITV this Sunday.

“Most people who have seen it agree the fears that people had, which were mainly that it was presenting the Fred West story as a horror or a porno movie, is not what it is.

“It’s not Fred West’s story, it’s the story of his social worker and therefore it is a respectful, intelligent and yet very necessary way to look at evil, which is what drama has done since the Greeks.

“I think it’s vindicated itself in the viewing. I hadn’t seen it until Sunday and it’s been well produced and directed. It is a story that needs to be told.

“There are horrendous statistics on how many people go missing in this country, how many children are abused and how many potential serial killers we never hear of.

“The fact that he lived among us, killing girls for 25 years, says a lot about what’s going on in society and that needs to be discussed and a good way of doing that is in serious drama.

“It was risk in that it had to be a good script and it had to be a good and accurate portrayal. That was my duty and responsibility and I hopefully pulled that off.”