Spotlight On… Secondary Cause of Death and Gangsta Granny Star: Liz Garland

Gangsta Granny is currently touring the UK, stopping at: Nottingham, Richmond, Southampton, Brighton and Cornwall to name a few. For an extensive list of all theatres participating in the tour and dates, follow the link below. Tour ends in Newtown on Saturday 3rd December 2016.

Liz Garland has just completed a tour of Peter Gordon’s Secondary Cause of Death and now she’s embarking on a new tour with David Walliams’ Gangsta Granny. I chatted to Liz about her recent roles and what it was that attracted to her to a career in ‘the business’.

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg Review, you’ve just completed the tour of Secondary Cause of Death, did you enjoy it and what did you think of your character, Henrietta?
It’s a pleasure to chat. I have loved being a part of the show. As a company we had so much fun onstage and off. The moment I read the role of Henrietta I wanted to play her. She is incredibly endearing and it was wonderful to be able to play a character who is so outlandish and ridiculous.
Have you performed in murder mysteries before and is that a genre you’re particularly fond of?
I have performed in a couple of others but I have not had the chance to perform in a spoof one prior to this show. What I like about doing shows such as this is that the audience are involved the whole way through. Whilst onstage you can almost hear them trying to guess who did it.
What’s next for you now that this your has finished?
I am joining the cast of Gangsta Granny for Birmingham Stage Company.
What made you decide to become an actress?
I have always loved stories. People fascinate me and I love the challenge of being able to convincingly portray individuals. Theatre/Film/Radio has the power to make people think about themselves and the situations around them like no other. It’s a privilege to be a small part of that. And in the words of Henrietta herself ‘Rather like dressing up!’  
What has been the most memorable moment of your career to date?
There have been so many. Each production you do is completely different and each one has special moments that you treasure.  A huge high however was getting the chance to be a guest in a TV show I was a fan of.
What are your ambitions for the future, any particular show or role that ‘calls’ to you?
I hope to continue doing what I love. If I can do that then I will be a very happy lady. I used to say my dream role was Queenie from Blackadder, played so wonderfully by Miranda Richardson. I got the chance to do this in a touring dinner theatre production which was a treat. I was allowed to watch endless episodes of Blackadder and call it work. Now that is a high!

I do hope to work in TV comedy at some point. I have written and produced my own online sketches as well as writing a sitcom pilot and I hope to continue down that road. Who knows what is ahead. That is what is exciting.  
What’s your advice for budding young actors?
My advice would be to not take it all too seriously. It doesn’t define you, or give you purpose. Cultivate life outside of it and create your own work where you can. It gives you  a sense of power as you create on your own terms.

Final words- It is a marathon not a sprint. You run your own race so don’t compare your journey with that of others. 
Favourite Things (give me your first reaction to these questions, please):
Favourite theatre?
So many! But I would have to say Poole Lighthouse because it is my home theatre and the first one I ever performed at as a little girl.
Favourite song?
Sara by Fleetwood Mac.
Favourite television programme?
Currently The Good Wife. A series that is getting better and better with every season. The characters are so strong and complex. Another contender would have to be The West Wing. I love Aaron Sorkin’s writing.

But I also have to mention all the wonderful old comedy series such as Fawlty Towers, Blackadder, Dads Army, Porridge and Father Ted.
Favourite actor or actress?
There are so many I love for many different reasons. Favourites include Cate Blanchett, Emma Thompson, Susan Sarandon, Rachel Weiss, Sally Philips and Joanna Scanlan. And I can’t forget the force that was Bette Davis. Now Voyager is firm a favourite of mine.
Favourite holiday destination?
Tuscany, Italy!
I’d like to thank Liz for her time and wish her every success future, she was a real treasure in Secondary Cause of Death, hilarious!



Secondary Cause of Death ~ Malvern Theatres

Touring production which finishes on Saturday 12 March at Malvern Theatres.

Secondary Cause of Death has landed at Malvern Theatres for the final leg of its tour, written by Peter Gordon and produced by Talking Scarlet. This features the bumbling Inspector Pratt who makes an appearance in a trilogy of Gordon plays (Death by Fatal Murder and Murdered to Death are the other two).

Set in Colonel Charles Craddock’s Country Manor House, Bagshot House, the guests of the Colonel are embarking upon a murder mystery style ‘parlour game’ which is hosted and written by Cynthia Maple (sister of Joan Maple, a nod towards Joan Marple, presumably!). Included in this charade are Count Puchlik of Puszczykowo from Poland, Lady Isodora Pollock who takes great delight in taking part in the game, over-acting like crazy. There’s also Henrietta Woolmer-Cardington who is an army captain and appears to be nice but dim – or is she? Lily Tuthill the cook who looks ready to skin a rabbit at a moment’s notice, and Cardew Longfellow, an actor employed by Miss Maple, who just happens to pay a resemblance to the Colonel – or does he? Either way, the bodies start piling up and the race is on to find out whodunit.

What’s refreshing about this is that it’s a farcical murder mystery and the ‘garden paths’ it leads the audience up are not only numerous, but all result in great hilarity. Inspector Pratt (played by David Callister with comic genius) moves from accusing no-one, declaring an obvious murder to be the secondary cause of death to announcing himself as the culprit (although he plans to plead innocent). It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud with such frequency during an evening at the theatre, and at a murder mystery of all things!

Judy Buxton is perfectly cast and puts in an excellent performance as Cynthia Maple, she’s the epitome of the formidable busy-body who sets the hapless Inspector straight. Liz Garland could be likened to a chameleon in her role as Henrietta, seemingly innocent but with a wholly different persona behind closed doors, Garland is an actress to watch out for, she shines in this production. Polly Smith is equally well cast as Lily Tuthill, the south western cook with her Mrs Overall style gait who is also not what she seems. David Janson brings a Manuel from Fawlty Towers quality to the role of the Count, he has some excellent slapstick scenes with Callister. Then there’s Jeffrey Holland, who demonstrates one of the many reasons why, in my opinion,  he’s one of our finest actors and remains so after years in the business, he switches seamlessly between the Colonel and Longfellow, his diction is precise and each character is played as an individual.

Secondary Cause of Death finishes its run in Malvern on Saturday 12 March and that is where the tour ends, so get your tickets by visiting this link:



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