Following the tremendous success of its world premiere in 2017, Ian Kelsey is starring in the second touring production of Barry Reed’s The Verdict by Middle Ground Theatre Company, complete with a stellar cast led by Ian as washed-up, alcoholic lawyer, Frank Galvin. Best-known for his roles in television series’, Emmerdale, Coronation Street and Blue Murder, we caught up with Ian to find out more about the play, talk about his remarkable career and relationship with television and live theatre.
What attracted you to The Verdict?
The first thing that was apparent about the part of Frank Galvin was that it was a huge part and what came with that was the huge journey that he goes through throughout the two hours. It is a gift as an actor to see something through that has a beginning, a middle and an end and that is so layered and interesting. When I read it and got to the end of it, I was under no doubt that I wanted to do it, it was an easy, easy choice.
Tell me about the character you are playing in The Verdict?
Frank - he’s a tortured old broken soul, who’s dealing with grief, rejection and not fitting in the world that he has chosen to be in. He didn’t go to Harvard, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or drive the right car, so he is conscious of this. He’s dealing with the death of his father and younger brother and was plucked off the gang plank in his U.S Marine Core greens by Moe Katz and taken under his wing. Since he’s been back on his feet he’s tarnished his own brush by being stubborn and arrogant. To him the courtroom is a way of funding his lifestyle and the court cases he has been taking on have been paying the bills and allowing him to dine with Boston’s finest and from that point the alcohol has flowed. The relationship with his wife has broken down and it has turned into a downward spiral. However, Frank has fantastic relationships with everyone he meets in this play and he has a different relationship with each of them outside and inside of the courtroom.
Frank Galvin has ‘issues’ as an actor, how do you prepare for a part like Galvin?
You absorb the words into your brain and decide how you are going to say them and how you will respond to the answers. I can relate to grief, I can relate to separation. I’m allowing Frank into me; I know that my Frank Galvin is different to the way other people have played him.
He is very passionate about the case he is working on, are there any similarities between yourself and Galvin?
I look like him! The similarities between myself and Frank Galvin - I like to do things properly, I like to see things through, I don’t like to do things half-heartedly, which is what Frank has been doing - he’s just been taking the money and running. It’s a shock for his partner Moe when he says he wants to help the girl in this case and Moe tries to convince him to take the money as it’s a great earner. In this case Frank follows it through and does it properly and that’s what I try to do in life as well.
You’ve had a mixed stage career with some serious stage plays and lighter musicals, you’re very versatile! Do you have a favourite medium?
One the happiest times of my lives was when I was in the tour of ‘Grease’ the musical, possibly because of where I was in life - young, free and single, touring the nation with forty new mates, recreating the best musical that’s ever been written and having to win the dance completion every night!
You’re a familiar face to us from your roles in television series’ such as Emmerdale, Coronation Street, Blue Murder, The Bill – to name just a few. How does acting for the television and the stage differ and do you have a favourite?
I do enjoy being on a film set for twelve hour sessions. When you are part of a company like that, you get to know the crew, catering, make up team, you are all part of this big family that’s working very intensively and partying very intensively as well if you are away from home! I know that world, I know camera technique, I know how I can help the film crew. It’s totally different to working on stage - on stage you are saying the same thing every night, but your job is to make the audience think you are saying it for the first time, that’s the difficult part of being a stage actor. I enjoy the rehearsal process more than the actual performing each night. I’m really looking forward to it though, I’m hardly off the stage for two hours, it will go very fast for me once the journey starts.
You're about to embark on a long tour all over the UK and Ireland, what are you looking forward to most?
I’ve been building a motorbike in Brighton and all that’s left to do is for the parts to be put back on the frame once it’s been painted, so I’m hoping to get it shipped to Edinburgh and then I’m going to ride it to Inverness and take a week to ride back for the last week of the tour.