Soap villains take lead in Grand ‘whodunnit’

Gary Mavers as Lloyd Andrews and Susie Amy as Monica Welles. Picture Keith Pattison
Gary Mavers as Lloyd Andrews and Susie Amy as Monica Welles. Picture Keith Pattison

If murder mysteries aren’t sinister enough, add in a couple of soap villains, have it play out on Halloween and you should be all set.

Rehearsal for Murder opens at the Grand Theatre tonight, starring Alex Ferns (who played Eastenders baddie Trevor Morgan) and Gary Mavers (Emmerdale’s abusive Gordon Livesey).

The production, which also stars Susie Amy, Ben Nealon, Anita Harris, Gwynfor Jones and Georgia Neville, tells the tale of playwright Alex Dennison, who is left heartbroken when his fiancée and leading lady Monica Welles is found dead from an apparent suicide after the opening night of her stage debut.

On the anniversary of that ill-fated night, Alex assembles the same cast and crew in the same theatre, for a reading of his new play.

As the reading progresses, the play’s similarity to actual events becomes increasingly uncomfortable for the participants, and it soon becomes clear that Alex believes Monica was murdered and his new play is a devious cat-and-mouse chase to uncover her killer.

Alex Ferns plays the aforementioned playwright in the production, but is probably best known for his role as Trevor Morgan, who terrorised Little Mo in Eastenders.

He says this is something he’s struggled to shake off: “I get it now and then. I’m good at handling it now; I don’t think I was very good at handling it when it was happening.

“Although that stunted my career for a couple of years I have no regrets because it was a great character.”

He adds that he’s now found love for the stage: “The interaction with the audience is incredible. You know when you’ve got them, you just feel it.

“When you bring people into the play and there’s a silence, it’s incredible.”

Gary Mavers recently won acclaim for his portrayal of child abusing Gordon Livesey in Emmerdale and the love for the stage is something he shares, becoming a regular of the Agatha Christie Theatre company.

He says: “I love the immediacy of theatre and I feel when I’ve finished a run in a play I’m up for anything, sharp, and theatre does that.”

Tickets are priced from £23 and are available from 01253 290190.