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    Jason Connery - A room to manouvre
    Jason Connery.
    Jason Connery
    Jason Connery shot to fame in the lead role in TV's Robin of Sherwood in 1984. Leaving his tights firmly in the past, Katy Lewis caught up with him as he dons a good deal less in The Blue Room.

    Read our review
    SEE ALSO

    Preview of the Blue Room

    Read our review

    WEB LINKS
    Milton Keynes Theatre
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    ESSENTIAL INFO

    Milton Keynes Theatre
    14-19 April 2003

    Mon - Thu eves 7.30pm Fri & Sat 5pm & 8.30pm

    Tickets: £10-£22

    Box Office: 01908 606090

    get in contact

    When your dad's probably the best James Bond ever (in my opinion and no disrespect to the others who are not worse just different!) you wouldn't have blamed Jason Connery if he'd just gone off and been an accountant or something, to avoid those inevitable comparisons.

    But he decided on acting and after attending the spartan Gordonstoun School in Scotland where he acted in school plays, he spent eight months at the Bristol Old Vic drama school and has never needed to look back or rely on his famous connections.

    His big break came in 1984 when he succeeded Michael Praed in the title role of the popular British TV series Robin of Sherwood.

    Since then his TV credits include a current recurring role in Smallville while films have included Macbeth, The Successor and Casablanca Express. He was also nominated for an Australian Oscar for his role in Winner Takes It All.

    Nicole Kidman
    The part, or parts, in Sir David Hare's adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde has brought Jason Connery back to both this country and the stage after years of film and TV work in the United States.

    He was last seen on stage two years ago when he played Sir Thomas Walsingham in Roland Joffey's Faithful Dealing and before that hadn't done theatre for many years. So what was it about this play that brought him back?

    "When I was asked if I would be interested, I knew about it because of all the publicity surrounding it when Nicole Kidman did it, but I didn't actually know about the play" he explains. "So I went out and bought it and discovered many aspects that interested me."

    One of these was the concept of playing many different parts, and the fact that he'd never done a two-hander before. But other 'aspects' turn out to be much more than characterisation and plot!

    Knickers off
    "I also realised that I had never sworn on stage before and I'd never been naked on stage - or 'taken my knickers off' as my mother would say" he laughs.

    "I also wrote down things that jumped out at me on first reading, things that related to other scenes, and found it incredibly interesting, so I said yes to playing the part."

    In The Blue Room, Jason plays five characters - a cab driver, student, politician, playwright and aristocrat - in 10 vignettes. But, as Jason is quick to point out, "they are all archetypes not stereotypes".

    "It's very rare that you are asked to play so many parts in one play with just two actors. It's a real challenge" he adds.

    Different wigs
    "There's also the diversity of the characters to consider" he continues. "For example - I'm not just a cab driver or just a politician. You have to think about how they speak, and where they're from and most importantly the physicality of the person."

    "I'm not putting on different wigs and glasses for each character so it's more about portraying their personality, not just their appearance."

    "You get moments in rehearsals when you think 'help - I don't know what I'm doing' - but you soon get a handle on it."

    So, what do all these different characters do, and what is the purpose of their diversity?

    "Well, the play is about an endless search for the perfect moment or liaison" explains Jason.

    Prostitute
    "You see each character in two different scenarios. For example, the cab driver is first seen with a prostitute and then with an au pair so you see the character in two situations. This shows how you get what you want from different people in different ways."

    Jason then goes on to explain how there are similarities and echoes all the way through, which keep you thinking.

    "The situations are all very different but linked in a way" he says. "As a politician I say that I've heard of someone who has five different kids by five different men. Then in the next scenario this politician is with a model who says that she still lives at home with her mum and that there are five of them."

    Six degrees

    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw.
    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw

    I suggest that here the play may be hinting at the idea of six degrees of separation. Jason agrees but explains that it is also a lot simpler than that.

    "It just shows that we are all searching for the same thing but in different ways" he says. "One of the last phrases in the play is 'on we go'. You just keep on going and experiencing in your search."

    'How true' I thought. This play is definitely for me!

    It hasn't always been to the taste of everybody though. Especially in the past. When the original La Ronde premiered in Germany in 1921, the police immediately closed it down, arrested the actors and put them on trial. But while attitudes to censorship may be different now, the theme is an age-old one.

    "Yes" agrees Jason, "even if you go back to stone age man it was the same. They were searching for love too but differently - they may not have been so aware of it."

    National Tour
    This is The Blue Room's first national tour, and with mostly full houses, so far it is being received very well. Audience reactions though are different as Jason explains:

    "In Cambridge they have cameras everywhere and you could see people leaving from your dressing room. Some were deep in contemplation and some were having arguments - you could see them gesticulating wildly at each other. Unfortunately we couldn't get any sound" he laughs.

    "This play can be simplistic. People meet, have sex, and part, and that's fine. But you can also see more into it than that if you want."

    "What is so good about Hare is that he writes very specifically and he leaves things unsaid" he explains. "It's not so good when everything is completely explained by the playwright because it doesn't leave you a lot to do. With Hare the audience is allowed to make their own assumptions."

    Neatly packaged

    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw.
    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw

    "It's like life" he continues, "where things are not neatly packaged into a scene, and questions are left unanswered."

    "It's not like a soap where you know that at the end of that week - or story line - everything will be sorted out. Loose ends will be tied up, the villains will get their come-uppance and you move onto the next story. People watch soaps because they make them feel safe and make them feel that the world is alright. Life just isn't like that."

    "It's interesting hearing what people have to say about it" he says. "Some expect it to be more intellectual but it is very, very simple really - the basic search is very simple. The search for that perfect liaison is a physical and emotional search not an intellectual one. You don't sit down and say - now the idea of love is …. etc etc."

    Sometimes with the stars of the screen you get the feeling that they get a script and just turn up and say their lines with out too much thought. And if they forget them, they can just do another take. Which, apart from the financial aspect, is why you don't often see too many of them on the stage.

    Conversation
    But with Jason Connery, after only a few minutes of conversation, you know that you could just talk to him about theatre forever. This is the kind of man you want at dinner parties! But with numerous TV and film credits behind him, has it been difficult to get back to live theatre?

    "It's not too difficult to come back to" he says. "Once you get to being on stage it's OK. And during the rehearsal period you follow a similar path. But you do tend to forget that there's usually a terrible moment when you don't know what you're doing - but it all comes together in the end."

    This play is difficult as well because with a two-hander there's no respite. "In other plays you may get a scene off" he says.

    Scottish

    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw.
    Jason Connery and Tracey Shaw

    Born into a theatrical family, his father is Scottish-born Sean Connery and his mother is the Australian actress Diane Cilento, it is easy to think that he had no other choice but to follow in their footsteps.

    "Well there's always a choice" he says. "But I can't say what I would have done instead. This is what I have chosen to do and the path that I've followed so can't talk about any other scenario. But I can say that I do enjoy what I do and not everybody can say that."

    So what's next? "At the moment I'm booked until the end of May and I don't think further ahead than that" he says.

    "It's all part of being an actor living that kind of existence" he explains. "It's almost like being in a play itself. Two people can be sitting down at dinner and nothing happens in that scene. But if you're an actor, you look for something terrible to happen in that scene so that you can react to it. It's the excitement of not knowing what's going to happen."

    But as Jason points out, this is the same for everyone, even if they have a seemingly steady job compared to an actor.

    "Life is like a play you haven't seen before. You don't know what's going to happen next. Who does know what they'll be doing in six months time? But wouldn't life be boring if you did?"

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