Lindsay Carr: man of many lives

LINDSAY Carr became involved in acting in his late teens when he joined Newcastle Repertory Club (now Newcastle Theatre Company – NTC) in 1971. His first major role was as a charming young man who was a murderer in Emlyn Williams’s Night Must Fall. Carr continued his involvement in theatre when he moved to Sydney in 1974, appearing in shows staged by the Genesian Theatre. Since returning to Newcastle in 1995 he has appeared in productions for several companies, winning CONDAs for his performances in DAPA’s 2004 comedy There Goes the Bride and NTC’s 2007 drama The Dresser. He received nominations last year for two shows directed by Isobel Denholm, Wrong Turn at Lungfish and The Club.

What is your role in Trap for a Lonely Man?

It’s the story of a man whose wife disappears after their honeymoon and a woman he claims not to know turns up and convinces others that she is his wife. I play a gentlemanly artistic tramp who turns up at the door seeking a handout and inadvertently becomes involved in the mystery. He was a witness at the man’s wedding. I saw the play in Sydney 30years ago and it was a knockout for the audience. It’s the kind of thriller you don’t see too much of these days.

How different will your next role in Sylvia be?

The title character is a dog who talks to people she likes and I play a husband in a long-standing marriage who brings the dog home. His wife, however, doesn’t like dogs and the presence of Sylvia threatens to break up the marriage. Sylvia, though, plays her part in resolving things. It’s a lovely piece of writing by American author A.R. Gurney and is something different.

You have worked with Isobel Denholm several times now. You clearly like the way she directs.

My first extensive experience with Isobel was on The Dresser, in which I played the title character, a man who has helped a long-established actor prepare for each performance. I had long speeches to deliver and Isobel would have me alone at the theatre on Saturday afternoons in the rehearsal period going through them. With Isobel, you do your work in the theatre and you do your homework. That’s one of the good things about acting. Often people push you to do things on stage that you’d never do in real life and you are surprised by what you achieve.

While living in Sydney you came back in 1981 to do a show, Play It Again, Sam, at Newcastle Repertory. How did that happen?

Director Shirley Bloomfield asked me to play the role of a recently divorced man, Allan Felix, whose obsession with Humphrey Bogart gets in the way of romance. I learnt the script while travelling on trains between Sydney and Newcastle and took holidays for the season. It was very funny and a big success. My first show when I came back to live was another Woody Allen play at Repertory, Don’t Drink the Water, in 1996.

What are your favourite roles?

I enjoyed playing Juror No 7, a slick salesman who doesn’t want to be on a jury, in the court-room drama 12 Angry Men at the Genesians. The father of the bride in There Goes the Bride was good fun. He hits his head on the morning of the wedding and wakes up thinking he’s a singer and dancer in the Fred Astaire-style. I can’t dance but the role required me to dance on from the wings. I had to ask a dancer every night which foot to place first. And I rather liked the retired major trying to develop a relationship with a nervous spinster in a Club 71 production of Separate Tables.

Trap for a Lonely Man plays at Hamilton’s DAPA Theatre from August 10 to 25, and Sylvia plays at Adamstown’s Theatre on Brunker from November 9 to December 1.

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