Actor Freddie Fox has starred in films like Pride and The Riot Club and on TV in gay drama Cucumber but strangely enough playing Romeo at the Crucible is the first time he’s tackled Shakespeare.
Freddie, who has been an actor for six years, said: “It’s the first time I’ve done any professional Shakespeare on stage.”
He admitted to feeling daunted at appearing in Romeo and Juliet: “For about three weeks I was really afraid and now I realise that I’m working on a play written by perhaps the best writer that has ever lived.
“The fear is that you’re not speaking contemporary language but within the first moment of reading it through, you realise it’s better and easier to speak as it’s much more expressive.
“I’m grateful to be playing this young guy who is feeling all these things for the first time and being this young guy myself.
“When you watch Shakespeare, it takes you five minutes at the beginning thinking what are they saying and then you click. It’s genius.”
Freddie said that the play is being set in the late 1980s to early 90s somewhere in Europe. “It sounds strange but, given the politics within the play, it completely fits. It’s set in a small town with people who are small-minded about young people and what they will allow them to do.”
He added: “It’s going to be very physical. It feels right as it’s a show about young people and the first time of doing so many things. In that extent of it being a play about young people and young love, there was a lot of energy to be poured on to the stage.
“It is extremes, extreme excitement, extreme caution, extreme fear and extreme danger. Given that they fall in love, kiss, Romeo kills someone and they die in the space of four days, it feels like what it should be.”
He added: “We’re doing one of the greatest stories ever written. You won’t recognise it from another production. I saw Baz Luhrman’s version on DVD a couple of weeks ago and we have a completely different way of telling that extraordinary story.”
Freddie recently starred in Channel 4 series Cucumber, a tragicomic drama series about the love lives of a group of gay men.
He said: “It’s a good show, I’m very proud of that show.
“It was a lot of work physically and emotionally but I was very grateful for the challenges and what came easily.”
One of the main characters was killed unexpectedly and Freddie said: “The writer Russell T Davies very intentionally wanted that death to feel like a real death, not just for the sake of the plot.
“You had to feel like you were this guy’s relative or friend and he suddenly dies. It looks at the strange ways human beings deal with grief. People don’t necessarily react in the way you expect.”
Freddie is enjoying his time at the Crucible.
He said: “It’s my second time in Sheffield. I came to see a dear friend in a play a few years ago and thought ‘this is an incredible theatre’, not knowing I’d have the honour of appearing in it.”
There may be a few famous faces watching Freddie at the Crucible.
He is from a famous acting family: his father is film star Edward Fox, his mother is Downton Abbey actress Joanna David and his sister is Silent Witness star Emilia Fox.
His uncle is another film star, James Fox, and his cousin Laurence stars in crime drama Lewis.
“I’ve got a lot of family,” said Freddie. They really want to see it.
“My father and mother are very proud of me doing my first Shakespeare and I’ve got very loyal friends as well.”
Romeo and Juliet is at the Crucible from September 17 to October 17. See www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or call 0114 249 6000.
Romeo and Juliet
September 17-October 17
Tickets online at Sheffield Theatres