Erika Marais is taking to the stage in the play The Barretts of Wimpole Street. We chatted to her about her experience with the show.
Q1: Tell us a little about what the play is about.
In 1845, in Elizabeth Barrett’s room at 50 Wimpole Street, London, unfolds the classic love story of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. It is not a straightforward story, for Elizabeth is an invalid after suffering a riding accident.
From her sofa she has, however, corresponded with many of the great literary figures of the day and written poetry which has been acclaimed as great, but her frailty has denied her any mobility and normal life at all.
Like an enchanted prince, Robert Browning comes to break the prison walls. Admiration for her work leads him to her and his love for her seems to instill vitality into her: gradually she tries to walk, becoming stronger and more active each day. They wish to marry, but their greatest obstacle, apart from Elizabeth’s health, is Elizabeth’s father, whose tyrannical attitude to his children seems to ruin any chance of happiness. His overriding obsession of righteousness allows his grown-up children neither freedom nor independence.
Q2: How does your character fit into the story?
I play the character of Henrietta, Elizabeth’s headstrong sister. Unlike Elizabeth and their other siblings, Henrietta insists on being herself, despite the iron rule of her father. She is funny, energetic and absolutely adores her eldest sister, Elizabeth Barrett.
Q3: How is the play different to the movie?
In this particular production, some of the sibling brothers’ roles were cut (there were originally 8 brothers!), and they are only made mention of, in order to streamline and shorten the play.
The movie starts with the kidnapping (dognapping) of Elizabeth’s darling pet Flush. Although the play starts off quite differently, Flush, who is being played by Oliver the Cocker Spaniel, is still a very important character in the play.
Q4: Why should people watch the show?
This show transports one back in time and the story takes one on a journey filled with tyranny, romance, frustration, anger, humour and bravery. It is a beautiful production with an elegant Victorian set and costumes. And of course, to see the star of the show – a beautiful Cocker Spaniel named Oliver, in the part of Flush!
To book tickets, click here. Show must close 30 July.