Share |

Colette Kelly Discusses the Return of Testing Times to Newcastle

Published by: Cameron Lowe on 2nd Oct 2014 | View all blogs by Cameron Lowe

Interview by Fiona Harvey

A compelling new play, coming to the Studio at The People’s Theatre, explores the impact of being diagnosed HIV+. Colette Kelly tells us more.

“People still have misconceptions and are ignorant about HIV,” states Colette Kelly in response to my asking her why she felt Testing Times was an important production to be involved in.

The Dublin-born actor, who made her debut in the original West End production of Hair, will take on the role of Brenda, a mother who discovers that her only son is HIV+, at The People’s Theatre in November.

“Testing Times will inform and educate people but, at the heart of it lies warmth and humour as the three characters strive to make sense of the situation they find themselves in,” she adds.

Surely, though, after the many public health campaigns surrounding HIV and AIDS, the need to ‘inform and educate’ is no longer an issue in the twenty-first century? Not according to Kelly.

Colette Kelly
Photo: Carl Procter 
“When I told a friend I’d be doing the play, she exclaimed: ‘A play about HIV? That’s a bit old hat, isn’t it?’ And there you have more than a good enough reason to give it another airing.”

Testing Times returns to the stage after a successful try-out at The Trent House last year, during which the play received critical acclaim and inspired cathartic outpourings of emotion from audiences.
“The play centres around Dominic (who contracts HIV), his partner, Chris, and his mother, Brenda,” explains Colette.

“Mine is a very meaty role. Many issues are raised for her: class, loyalty and her relationship with her husband Bob.”

The three-hander play has been described as being ‘as witty and uplifting as Calendar Girls; as profound and engaging as The Vagina Monologues; and as moving and emotive as Blood Brothers’.

“I think the set-up of having three characters on the stage, simultaneously, lends itself to the style of the play. Such is the quality of the writing that even those characters who are talked about, but do not appear, have a presence that is deeply felt.”

With an acting pedigree that includes stints on the West End alongside the likes of Richard Gere, repertory seasons throughout the United Kingdom and touring Ireland in a series of Beckett plays, what attracted Colette to a four-night run in Newcastle?

“The script and the issues it deals with,” she answers without hesitation. “The language is blunt and to the point, at times, so the play is not for the faint-hearted. Having said that, Testing Times will resonate with any audience – whatever their sexual orientation.”

Colette cannot wait for rehearsals to begin.
“I am looking forward to being part of a very collaborative process in the rehearsal room. I think all three of us have ideas and observations about our individual characters that we would like to explore, whilst also being conscious of not upsetting the balance of the script. I love the way in which the playwright has mixed humour with the seriousness of the issues concerned.”
Testing Times
The People’s Theatre Stephenson Road, Newcastle NE6 5QF 
Monday 17 – Thursday 20 November, 2014,
Tickets are priced at £11.50 (full) & £9.50 (concessions).
Telephone 07986 142281 or call the Box Office 0191 265 5020



Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up now.