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Courting Success - Ian Kelsey stars in The Verdict

Posted on 21 January 2019

Following the tremendous success of its world premiere in 2017, Middle Ground Theatre’s acclaimed adaptation of Barry Reed’s The Verdict kicks off its second tour in Coventry next week.

Shot to international fame through Sidney Lumet’s five times Oscar-nominated film version, Reed’s bestselling courtroom thriller will be brought to life on stage at the Belgrade Theatre 30 Jan-2 Feb, complete with a stellar new cast led by Ian Kelsey as washed-up, alcoholic lawyer Frank Galvin.

Known for his regular roles in Blue Murder, Emmerdale, Casualty, Down to Earth, Where the Heart is, Doctors and Coronation Street, Kelsey told us more about his role as the once-promising attorney who is given one last chance to redeem himself when he takes on a major medical malpractice case that no one thinks he can win.

The Verdict

Tell us a bit about your character, Frank Galvin.

Frank is a tortured, old, broken soul, who’s dealing with grief, rejection and not fitting into the world that he has chosen to be in. He didn’t go to Harvard, he doesn’t wear the right clothes or drive the right car, so he is conscious of this. He’s also dealing with the death of his father and younger brother and was plucked off the gang plank in his U.S Marine Corps greens by Moe Katz and taken under his wing.

Since he’s been back on his feet he’s been tarnished his own brush by being stubborn and arrogant. To him, the courtroom is just a way of funding his lifestyle and the court cases he has been taking on have been paying the bills and allowing him to dine with Boston’s finest and from there the alcohol has flowed. His relationship with his wife has broken down and set him on a downward spiral. However, Frank has fantastic relationships with everyone he meets in this play and he has a different relationship with each of them inside and outside of the courtroom.

Frank has to work through a lot of problems as a character and is carrying around a lot of emotional baggage. How do you prepare for a part like this?

You absorb the words into your brain and decide how you are going to say them and how you will respond to the answers. I can relate to grief, I can relate to separation. I’m allowing Frank into me; I know that my Frank Galvin is different to the way other people have played him.

The Verdict

Are there any similarities between you and Frank?

I do look like him! Generally I like to do things properly and see things through – I don’t like to do things half-heartedly, which is what Frank has been doing. He’s just been taking the money and running. It’s a shock for his partner Moe when he says he wants to help the girl in this case and Moe tries to convince him to take the money as it’s a great earner. But in this case, Frank follows it through and does it properly and that’s what I try to do in life as well.

What was it that attracted you to The Verdict?

The first thing that was apparent about playing Frank Galvin was that it was a huge part, and what came with that was the journey that he goes on throughout the two hours. It is a gift as an actor to see something through that has a beginning, a middle and an end and is so layered and interesting. When I read it and got to the end of it, I was under no doubt that I wanted to do it, it was an easy, easy choice.

The Verdict

You’ve had a mixed stage career with some serious stage plays and lighter musicals, you’re very versatile! Do you have a favourite medium?

One the happiest times of my lives was when I was in the tour of ‘Grease’ the musical, possibly because of where I was in life – young, free and single, touring the nation with forty new mates, recreating the best musical that’s ever been written and having to win the dance completion every night!

You’re also a familiar face to us from your television roles. How does acting for the television and the stage differ and do you have a favourite?

I do enjoy being on a film set for twelve hour sessions. When you are part of a company like that, you get to know the crew, catering, make-up team, you are all part of this big family that’s working very intensively, and often partying very intensively as well if you are away from home!

I know that world, I know camera technique, I know how I can help the film crew. It’s totally different to working on stage – on stage you are saying the same thing every night, but your job is to make the audience think you are saying it for the first time, that’s the difficult part of being a stage actor. I enjoy the rehearsal process more than the actual performing each night. I’m really looking forward to it though, I’m hardly off the stage for two hours, so it will go very fast for me once the journey starts.

The Verdict

You’re about to embark on a long tour all over the UK and Ireland, what are you looking forward to most?

I’ve been building a motorbike in Brighton and all that’s left to do is for the parts to be put back on the frame once it’s been painted, so I’m hoping to get it shipped to Edinburgh and then I’m going to ride it to Inverness and take a week to ride back for the last week of the tour.

Middle Ground Theatre’s The Verdict shows at the Belgrade Theatre from Wednesday 30 January until Saturday 2 February. Tickets are available to book now.