After appearing in a play inspired by the First World War, ex-EastEnder Charlie G Hawkins now moves onto a play inspired by the Second.
Charlie joins the cast of Terence Rattigan’s Flare Path (Connaught Theatre, Worthing, January 27-30), produced by the same company in which he earlier toured in the stage adaptation of Sebastian Faulks’ Birdsong.
“Birdsong was a wonderful experience,” Charlie says. “It’s such a huge novel, such a detailed novel. It is so epic! It has got the little things and the details that Sebastian Faulks said he wanted to put into it when we first met him. He said he never felt there was enough detail, and that was great. I loved doing it. We were on a 29-week tour.”
The hope is that Flare Path will enjoy some of the momentum Birdsong enjoyed over three tours as the Rattigan goes on out on its own second tour, almost totally recast with ten new faces out of 11. Charlie is among the newcomers.
Based on Rattigan’s experiences as a tail gunner during World War Two, Flare Path paints an evocative portrait of life in wartime Britain for the life-and-death existence of the RAF bomber crews, and their wives and sweethearts who were left waiting their return.
Set in 1942 against a backdrop of heartache and quiet bravery, Flare Path tells the story of former actress Patricia, the wife of RAF pilot Teddy, whose marriage is tested to the limits by the surprise arrival of Patricia’s ex-lover and Hollywood idol Peter Kyle. An unexpected and dangerous mission over Germany puts Patricia at the centre of an emotional conflict as unpredictable as the war in the skies.
“I am playing the young barman Percy who is around the pilots constantly,” Charlie says. “He is a boy but dreams of being a man. He sees these pilots and their wives going out every night, and for him they are like The Avengers of his day. They are superheroes as far as he is concerned, and he wants to sign up as soon as he can. He is just desperate to be part of it all, but he just doesn’t know the stark reality behind it all. He wants to be a man himself, but he doesn’t understand the horrors of it all.”
Theatre was always something he wanted to do, says Charlie who played Darren Miller in EastEnders between 2004 and 2011. “But I grew up on TV. I never went to drama school or theatre school. I had no theatre training or background.
“But theatre is the ultimate frontier of acting. It’s the true craft. Television is a skill and is enjoyable, but theatre is so different. There is no second take. You have got to be on your A game the whole time. Every performance has got to be fresh because it is a new audience every time.
“So it is great to have done two shows that are ensemble shows. I am like a sponge. Everybody has been amazing, and I have been trying to learn little tips all the time. I like to watch the rehearsals to see how other people approach it, to see what they are doing so that I can appreciate their craft and learn from them all the time. It has been great.”
The cast is led by Graham Seed as Sqdn Leader Swanson, Lynden Edwards as Peter Kyle and Hedydd Dylan as Patricia Graham. 01903 206206 or www.worthingtheatres.co.uk.
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