Ex-EastEnder Clare Wilkie caught in The Mousetrap
November 15, 2012
THE LIFE of an actress in a touring production is far from glamorous, as Clare Wilkie, currently playing Miss Casewell in The Mousetrap, will testify.
“I’m in digs in Manchester this week and they are spotless but it’s pot luck,” says Clare, who is best known for her lead role in the BBC’s Berkeley Square and for playing Sandra di Marco in EastEnders.
“People with a spare bedroom put them on the digs list and you can get some grim ones that people have been smoking in.”
Clare also misses her cat Jack when she’s away but other than that she loves the touring life.
“I get paid to see the country I live in, places I wouldn’t normally go. Each week it’s a different audience and I always feel I’m going on to something new rather than leaving. Each place has different nuances and quirks and ways.”
Born in Somerset, Clare was at a convent in Windsor when her older sister left for theatre school in Maidenhead.
“I wanted to do what my sister was doing and when I got there – I was always a precocious child – I got really ambitious really quickly,” she said. “I had half an education – the other part was singing and dancing. Now I think it’s probably best to get a degree and then go to a top drama school if you still want to act.
“Coming from a divorced family, I wanted to prove myself. But I learnt the hard way as an adult that having a fallback is useful. The cold reality is that only a handful of actresses can be a Julia Roberts or even a Martine McCutcheon and there’s going to be a lot of time when you’re not working. Right now I’m saving for the next time I’m out of work. And as a woman there’s always the possibility that you didn’t get a part because you are not pretty or thin enough. Now I’m a bit older I’m more comfortable in my skin though.”
Her favourite role so far has been Matty in Berkeley Square in which she played a nanny, a leading role.
“It was a strong female project with the three leads, director and producer all women and it had a big budget of about a million an episode. I put my all into it. But funnily enough one of my favourite times was on the soap Crossroads, I did the last series before it was axed and you’d think it could have been awful but I had the best time, there was a really good atmosphere.”
She loves the fact that there is “no hierarchy and no big egos” in The Mousetrap’s touring company.
As the longest running play in the world – it has been on in London continuously for 60 years – the show is a must-see on the tourist trail.
Some were cynical about whether it would survive transplantation from its home of nearly 40 years, the West End’s St Martin’s Theatre, where it still runs.
But according to Clare, it was a gamble that succeeded.
“We sold out in Manchester and are putting extra shows in,” she said. “It’s a really good classic whodunnit and it’s clever how it keeps the audience guessing. We are having great fun with it and it is clear it can work anywhere.”
The tour will continue until August next year and Clare has no plans beyond that yet. “I’m probably not old enough to play the roles I most want to – like Medea or Hermione in The Winter’s Tale. Actresses I really admire are people like Carey Mulligan, Emma Thompson, Judi Dench – because they are just so incredibly good and have something quirky about them.”
The Mousetrap is at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking until Saturday November 17. Call the box office on 0844 871 7645 or visit www.atgtickets.com/woking.