Second role in a year shows Crucible stage is right for Price

Claire Price in rehearsals for The Winter's Tale at the Crucible Theatre.
Claire Price in rehearsals for The Winter's Tale at the Crucible Theatre.

Only a few months after appearing in DH Lawrence’s The Daughter-in-Law Claire Price is back at the Crucible to appear in The Winter’s Tale.

The Chesterfield-born actress has appeared regularly at the theatre over the years since 2002 when she appeared in Mean Tears in the Studio as part of the Peter Gill season. She has featured in some notable productions including three other Shakespeares, Richard III, Much Ado About Nothing and The Tempest, Michael Grandage’s swansong at the theatre, Don Carlos, contemporary drama The Pride, alongside Daniel Evans who directed her in the musical Company.

She even toured here in her very first professional job with Howard Barker’s The Wrestling School in Ursula, and has retained a strong affection for the theatre.

But appearances have never been in such close succession as this.

“The reason I have found myself working here twice this year is the two roles. Minnie in The Daughter in Law was a part I had dreamed of playing and The Winter’s Tale is my favourite Shakespeare play.

“Why I love it so much is that I saw this wonderful production by Adrian Noble at the RSC in 1993 with Samantha Bond playing Hermione,” she explains.

“It was just before I went to drama school and my mother was in the company, although she was in All’s Well and not Winter’s Tale, but it meant I was spending time in Stratford.

“It was the most beautiful production and visually striking. I vividly remember Autolycus being carried on by a bunch of balloons.”

The attraction, though, is the role of Hermione and her “incredible goodwill and lack of self pity”.

Hermione is accused by her husband, Leontes, of having an affair with his best friend who he believes has fathered the baby she is carrying. The angry king orders the child to be killed and Hermione is banished to a remote island unaware her daughter has been secretly spared.

“Some people are raised for leadership or to serve others - and she sees that as her job,” observes Price.

“Her reaction to Leontes’ actions for what he sees as her infidelity is to worry whether everyone else is OK. It’s all about a concern for others and a sort of stoicism.”

The way she shows her husband a level of compassion can be seen as empowerment rather than victimisation, according to Price.

She is working for the same director as with The Daughter-in-Law, Paul Miller, but the offer to play Hermione came some time after that finished its run in March.

“Winter’s Tale was being talked about then and it crossed my mind that there might be an opportunity for me,” she smiles.

The Winter’s Tale is at the Crucible from October 3 to November 2.