ACTOR Richard Worland has the kind of face which you know you have seen on TV loads of times. That’s because you almost certainly have.
Richard has paid his dues as an actor on Midsomer Murders and in other TV programmes and films. But that familiar face more likely comes from a Government commercial he made about energy-saving shortly after he turned fully professional in 2006.
He played a kindly old vicar — quite a long way from the part he’ll be playing at the Kenton Theatre in Henley next month in the play 84 Charing Cross Road about a transatlantic literary romance between a woman in New York and a bookseller in London.
Worland will be surrendering his professional status for the role for that week as the play is an amateur production, but he will be playing alongside Henley talent Suri Poulos. Together, the pair scooped the regional prize for best production at the country’s association of drama groups, NODA, when they played the same roles at Chesham last year.
Richard, who never acted in his life until taking a small role in an open-air Shakespeare production in 1990, says a lot of professionals won’t work with amateurs because they feel they’ve moved on.
“But I take a different view,” he says. “If I have found a really talented group of people with enthusiasm then I will work with them — professional commitments allowing, of course.
“I don’t think that if you’re professional you’re dragging yourself down by working with people who aren’t. And that’s certainly not the case with this group. They’re really good and Suri Poulos playing Helene Hanff is amazing. I jumped at the chance to play against her again.”
Richard has played at the Henley Fringe and the Kenton Theatre in the past so is familiar with the town. But he has also played the big stage, taking a part in a Globe Theatre production.
84 Charing Cross Road was originally a book written in 1970 by Helene Hanff about the 20-year correspondence between herself and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co, an antiquarian booksellers located at the eponymous address in London.
In search of obscure classics and British books she couldn’t find in New York, Hanff answered an ad in a literary review and contacted the shop in 1949, where Doel answered her request.A long-distance friendship developed and their correspondence included discussions about topics as diverse as the sermons of John Donne and how to make Yorkshire pudding. However by the time Hanff got round to visiting London in 1971 Doel had already died from a burst appendix, and the bookshop had already closed.
Suri Poulos was described by judges as “brilliant” in the 2012 winning production. As then, her husband Darrel will be directing at the Kenton. 84 Charing Cross Road runs at the Kenton Theatre from September 25 to 28. Box office (01491) 575698 or visit www.kentontheatre.co.uk
By Mike Rowbottom