Sky's the limit for young actor

Emma LeeThe latest production of Norwich Theatre Royal Actors Company, fast establishing itself for cutting edge drama, is David Hare's Skylight. EMMA LEE meets one of its stars, up-and-coming young Norfolk actor Charlie Hotson.Emma Lee

The latest production of Norwich Theatre Royal Actors Company, fast establishing itself as the city's premier exponent of cutting edge contemporary drama, is David Hare's Skylight. EMMA LEE meets one of its stars, upcoming actor Charlie Hotson.

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'I've never been interviewed before,' says Charlie Hotson a little bit nervously as we sit down to have a chat at the restaurant at Norwich Theatre Royal.

But it's something that the 22-year-old rising star is going to have to get used to.

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Not long out of drama school, the West Norfolk actor is building up an impressive CV. He's already appeared on stage in the West End - something many actors have to wait years for - in Stephen Daldry's An Inspector Calls at the Novello Theatre.

And next week he's returning to his home county to appear in the Norwich Theatre Royal Actors Company's latest production, Skylight, at Norwich Playhouse under the direction of Peter Wilson.

The Actors Company specialise in bringing new and cutting edge dramatic works to the city, using home-grown creative talent on stage and behind the scenes. And Skylight, which is written by David Hare, is no exception.

Exploring the aftermath of an adulterous affair, it stars Stuart Organ as contrite restaurateur Tom and Romy Tennant as his mistress, Kyra.

Both actors will be familiar to the audiences of previous Actors Company productions. Stuart, who is best-known for playing Mr Robson in Grange Hill, starred in Blackbird. And former UEA student Romy was in Mark Ravenhill's challenging Pool (No Water).

Charlie plays Tom's son and it is his first Actors Company production.

Originally from King's Lynn he cut his performing teeth in West Norfolk, winning critical praise for his lead performance in Romeo and Juliet at the West Acre Open Air Theatre.

Now living in London, he graduated with a first class honours degree from the Court Theatre Training Company.

A former pupil of King Edward VII and Springwood High schools in King's Lynn, Charlie joined West Acre when he was about 13. 'When I realised I wasn't good at any sport whatsoever,' he laughs. 'Acting was the thing I loved and enjoyed and I was lucky to get involved there.'

Having served his apprenticeship, he moved to London to study, but has still maintained his links with West Acre. He said that it was a great experience appearing in An Inspector Calls, even though it was a non-speaking role.

'I was a supernumary, which put my skills to the test,' he says. 'It's irrelevant whether it was a speaking part or not, it was a fantastic chance to be a part of a West End production when I'd only been out of drama school for a couple of months.'

And how did he become involved with the Actors Company?

'It was something that Peter [Wilson] suggested and went from there. We met up in London and had a read-through. It's a pleasure to be involved with it. The Actors Company is coming out with some interesting stuff, some hard-hitting plays, and it's fantastic that it involves people from the local pool of talent,' he says.

'Plus, Hare's writing is amazing,' he adds. 'It's all about the relationship. For most of the time, it's just the two of them [Tom and his mistress] on stage. The things they talk about are very in-depth.'

Skylight is the first production Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive Peter Wilson has directed in Norfolk since last spring's acclaimed touring production Sign Of The Times, which starred Stephen Tompkinson. Peter is also the founder of the London production company PW Productions which is responsible for The Woman In Black and An Inspector Calls.

Peter says: 'This is David Hare's masterpiece. It's structured absolutely perfectly, it's very funny, it's very tender and extremely honest about relationships.'

t Skylight is at Norwich Playhouse from April 20-24, �13.50 (�10 cons), 01603 630000,