LAST year Marlene Sidaway was at the Crucible playing one the three witches in Macbeth and now back in DH Lawrence’s The Daughter-in-Law, says: “I am rather glad you didn’t recognise me.”
Her character, Mrs Purdy, is the neighbour of the Gascoynes, the mining family at the centre of the play, who puts the cat among the pigeons by revealing that the son Luther, got her daughter, Bertha, pregnant in a brief dalliance before he got married.
“She’s a really interesting character,” observes the actress, “Although I only have two scenes, everything that happens in the play is because of what she starts.
“She’s had a hard life and brought up a lot of children who have done quite well. None of them have caused her any trouble except Bertha who is too nice and giving.”
Before she went up for the part, Sidaway was unfamiliar with Lawrence’s play, first performed in 1930, but immediately recognised it as a work of quality. “The thing about really good theatre is that they have stood the test of time because they have the kind of characters everyone who watches the play can relate to,” she says. “They are people who have problems, not huge problems, but everyday ones and they have hopes and dreams like everyone else.”
It’s a contrast from her first appearance at the Crucible, playing a tree in a piece of children’s theatre by Rex Doyle, coincidentally husband of one of her fellow witches in Macbeth, Sandra Voe.
A small world, then. “It’s even more of a small world because for my very first job I was doing children’s theatre and we went to a school where one of the other companies was doing their dress rehearsal and there were Sandra and Rex so I have known them from my very first day as an actress.”
Sandra Voe, incidentally, was to be seen at the weekend on BBC crime thriller, Shetland, coming to a sticky end before the credits came up. With an exensive list of TV credits, Sidaway has experienced plenty of murder most foul herself. “I am famous for Midsummer Murders,” says the actress who originates from Teeside. “I have been in about five of them and played the housekeeper and whenever I was walking through the village and the sun was shining and I am saying ‘Morning, What a Lovely Day’, I am about to find a body and scream.
“I am the best screamer there is and once I remember I had to trip over a headless body and run out with blood everywhere. I was an enduring character but they killed me off eventually,”
Her most enduring TV role was on Coronation Street playing Brenda Taylor.
“She was the mother of Kimberely,” she explains. “Curly Watts was very keen on her and Mr and Mrs Taylor were absolutely adamant that he wouldn’t get his leg over until they got married. He of course had different ideas and it was all quite funny. It was a very well written series of episodes. And then the actress playing Kimberley got pregnant so our storyline had to stop.”
The Daughter-in-Law continues at the Crucible until March 23