Akuc learns a woman's place in the court of Idi Amin Dada

At 25 Akuc Bol is 10 years younger than Kay Amin whom she is playing in The Last King of Scotland at the Crucible and yet she was about four years older than the girl in care she played on TV’s The Dumping Ground.

Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 12:28 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd October 2019, 11:27 am
Akuc Bol behind Joyce Omotola, and Daniel Portman in The Last King of Scotland at the Crucible, Sheffield ;

As the great Laurence Olivier might have said, it’s called acting, dear boy,.

“They have different demands and require a different outlook,” says Akuc Bol. “This role requires a little more patience because it is further away from home. It’s also based on a true story and that requires a different pacing than something you invent yourself.”

The Last King of Scotland tells of Idi Amin’s reign of terror in Uganda in the Seventies through the eyes of a Scottish doctor who became the president’s personal physician.

John Omole and Akuc Bol in The Last King of Scotland at the Crucible, Sheffield

Kay was the second of Amin’s six wives. “In the play you see two of them and two others are mentioned,” says Bol who describes Kay as “courageous, loving with a big heart”.

Her significance in the play is that she is having an affair with someone in Amin’s close circle. “We touch on domestic violence as well and I feel there is a lot of weight that Kay carries.

“She can’t express herself because it is not safe to do. She has a duty and too much expression is not her place. It was part of the culture but also of the time when everyone was watching everyone and there was a state of fear. One mis-step could mean death.”

Her secret love was an escape from a lot of bad experience, considers Bol. “It was refreshing for her to know that there was something else out there. And she was also passionate about medical care and helping women, helping children. Those were her two escapes and gave her a sense of normality.”

Akuc Bol in rehearsals for The Last King of Scotland at the Crucible, Sheffield

The London-born actor’s family are from South Sudan where physically a lot of people look similar to Ugandan. “Sometimes growing up people would ask if I was Ugandan,” she recounts. “Being Nilotic there are a few tribes which are common in Kenya, Uganda and South Sudan. The accents are similar.”

Her family fled the civil war in Sudan in the 1980s, although her father is back there now.

“I was 10 years old when we did Pericles, a simplified version obviously, and that gave me the taste for acting,” she recalls “and I still remember the moment when I thought, this is so much fun. And I was good at it and decided that was what I wanted to do.

“I remember the time I told my mum I wanted to be an actor and she said, no, no, you have to become a doctor.”

None of her four sisters has gone into acting and her mother only became convinced she was serious when friends and relatives started talking about seeing her daughter on CBBC’s The Dumping Ground.

“This is officially my first paid stage gig,” she points out. “I did a lot of youth theatre and was in The Dumping Ground for two years before drama school, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

“I always wanted to speak French and studied hard at school and by chance the drama school did an exchange with the Conservatoire National Supérieur d’Art Dramatique in Paris.” Although Paris proved not what she expected she perfected the language enough to land a French-speaking part in a Netflix show, Messiah, filmed in Jordan.

“What I love about this job is it takes you to different places,” she concludes. As well as Scotland I had two years in Newcastle where Dumping Ground was filmed so I feel the north has raised me in a way.

The Last King of Scotland continues at the Crucible until October 19.