Muddy meets Charlie Brooks
We know and love her as Janine Butcher from EastEnders, but Charlie Brooks is now treading the boards as the troubled Sally in Torben Betts' new play 'Monogamy' at the Richmond Theatre.
We know and love you as Janine Butcher from EastEnders – does this role signal a move away from telly into theatre land?
Yes, I’m really passionate about theatre, and I love working here. Every play opens up such different discussions and explorations, which is always hugely exciting. However I’m not moving away from telly as such — I’m just always up for interesting work that is exciting and challenging, wherever it might be!
Are you sad to see the back of Janine?
Janine has been a huge part of my life, since I was 17. She’ll always mean a great deal to me, but I’m looking forward to exploring new roles and characters and immersing myself in other people’s worlds.
How did the role of Sally come about?
I first got to know Sally when I was sent audition scripts, and was very moved by her. For me, she’s in the play partly to offset the privilege and glamour of Caroline’s life, and to challenge some of the moral decisions Caroline has made.
Can you give us a bit more goss on Sally?
Sally is a very troubled woman who faces enormous challenges in her daily life, both from her family’s situation and in terms of her own health, from which she has inevitably suffered. That said, she’s fundamentally a kind and loving person who is fighting to hold on to what matters most to her, in the face of her difficulties. The tension between the damage that has been done to her and the strength of her spirit is where the part comes alive for me.
Any similarities between you and Sally?
Although I don’t have the kind of problems in my life that Sally has in hers, I relate to her hugely, and am feeling more and more drawn into her — especially in terms of her efforts to be a good person, to believe in herself, and to do the right thing, even when life is full of challenges.
Are you attracted to playing a particular role – the goodie or the baddie, for instance – Janine was a pretty juicy role, for sure. And is there a particular part you’d still like to get stuck into?
No, I wouldn’t say that I have a preference as to ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’. If the part is exciting, and offers an opportunity to explore something new, then my interest will always be piqued. I think often the most interesting parts don’t really fall into black and white categories of good or bad — the grey area between is what interests me creatively.
Any habits, rituals or superstitions before you go on stage?
I’m not a particularly superstitious person, but I like to have a good atmosphere in my dressing room, so I sometimes light scented candles, for instance. I’m a big fan of a thorough physical and vocal warm up, where the whole company can come together to focus our energy on the task ahead.
How do you spend time when you’re not on stage?
I love going to the theatre as much as possible, getting out in the fresh air, eating great food and spending time with my daughter. I’m a huge fan of audiobooks, too, so that’s always a part of my day.
How do you juggle touring with family life?
I’m lucky to have an amazing support network of friends and family who support both me and my daughter when I’m away from home. Needless to say it’s not easy, and we miss each other, but she came up to Guildford last week to see the show, which was lovely. She’s my toughest critic so I’m chuffed she loved it!
Favourite film? The last film you saw?
I really can’t decide on a favourite! But the last film I saw was Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage.
Favourite book? The last book you read?
Last book I read was My Absolute Darling by Gabrielle Tallent. My favourite book is Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Any favourite haunts.
I’m local to Surrey so I have many fond memories of Richmond Park and the surrounding area. For my birthday this year we played a huge 40-person game of rounders on the green outside my house!
Monogamy is at Richmond Theatre from Mon 28 May – Sat 2 June. atgtickets.com