Ever wondered 'What Would Helen Mirren Do?'

Published: 21 March 2012 at 11:12

One-woman show to play for five nights at Anglia Ruskin’s Mumford Theatre

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Anita Parry is bringing her one-woman show What Would Helen Mirren Do? to the Mumford Theatre at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge from 10-14 April.

Susan has worked in a supermarket for most of her life.  Busy with her job, her kids and her elderly mother, she’s never given much thought to role-models until she’s training for promotion and is forced to adopt one.  But her life changes dramatically when she starts to ask herself What Would Helen Mirren Do?

Anita plays Susan, her boss, her management trainer, her grown-up kids and a host of other characters in this funny and moving play written by Josie Melia, which was described by The Guardian as “Shirley Valentine meets The Office”.  

What Would Helen Mirren Do? is directed by Peter Ellis, who is probably best known for playing Chief Superintendent Brownlow in ITV’s The Bill.  Peter is married to Anita and this is the first time he has directed her, which Anita admitted wasn’t without its problems.

“It was a bit rocky at first but we soon settled into it and it didn’t spill out too much into our home life – which is good!”

explained Anita.

 “Peter’s very skillful handling comedy and drama – he’s got so much experience and had also worked with Ray Cooney, who is a bit of a genius when it comes to directing comedy.
“Josie Melia, the writer, wrote the role of Susan for me.  Both myself and Josie share a Northern upbringing and Irish mothers.  We wanted to produce something funny that was also true to life about a Northern woman who was essentially juggling life and coming to terms with being in her middle age.  It was great to see the various drafts and be part of the process.”

As well her character looking to Helen Mirren for inspiration, Anita is also a fan of the Oscar-winning actress.

 “I genuinely am, always have been since I saw her in The Long Good Friday,”

said Anita.

“I think she’s a great role model for women of all ages – not just because she’s sexy and mature but because she’s not afraid to take on a wide variety of roles that are not always flattering to her.  She’s also a generous person.  The crate of champagne she sent to our opening night in Brighton showed us that!”

What Would Helen Mirren Do? runs from 10-14 April and tickets cost £10 and £12.  For further information, contact the Mumford Theatre box office on 0845 196 2320 or visit www.anglia.ac.uk/mumfordtheatre