WHEN I first met actor Liam Bergin, it was on the first day of rehearsals for the new Royal & Derngate production The Bacchae and he was one of the cast of actors optimistically looking around at the Chronicle & Echo’s dingy old print room.
Several weeks later and the play – Rosanna Lowe’s adaptation of Euripides’ original Greek tragedy – has already started its run.
And the rather dank and cavernous former print room downstairs at the Chron’s Earl Street office in Northampton and been thoroughly cleaned and transformed into a theatrical set to rival any other.
It has been a busy time for former Eastenders actor Liam, as he is currently starring as Pentheus in The Bacchae as well as the Groom in Blood Wedding, another show which is being performed by the same company in rotation in the Royal auditorium.
“When I first looked in to that room at the newspaper building it was a cell. We had seen a model box of what they had proposed to do with the set, but sometimes people run out of budget. But it did become all that and more,” he said, reflecting on The Bacchae’s unusual setting.
“When the lights are on it and there is a smoke machine, it really helps create the atmosphere. Before any words are said there is this exciting space that the audience are sitting and looking at. We are sitting in the room at the back and it is electric, it has a different energy to a traditional theatre. We are making it work for us.”
Liam can be recognised for having appeared in the TV series Doctors, Minder and Trinity, and as Danny Mitchell, Archie’s secret son, in Eastenders. Like father like son, his character went on to develop as one of the soap’s villains, attempting to steal money from his unwitting sisters Ronnie and Roxy. Appearing in such a high profile soap was a steep learning curve, as Liam remembers.
“Those six months of my life flew by and I was quite busy. I had nine scripts in my head at one time and everyone was like that. For me it was a really steep learning curve going from drama school where you could spend weeks in rehearsal to somewhere where you could have two hours between getting your scripts and playing a scene.”
Seeing Liam’s cheery countenance, it is tough to imagine how he could have been cast as a villainous character but, as Liam explains, Danny was a bit more of a “cheeky chappy.” That did not stop the backlash he received from members of the public while appearing in the show.
“I would get booed in the supermarket but, because he did everything with a smile, he had that energy about him that he was not really like that. People would boo me, although it wasn’t aggressive. It was in a panto spirit.”
Blood Wedding and The Bacchae will run until June 30.