Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wicked Role Has Ishia as Queen

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Wicked Role Has Ishia as Queen

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

Shakespeare might pose a challenge but at least Ishia Bennison no longer has to sign sickbags on a hovercraft, as she explains to David Whetstone .

Just how do you get a part in a Royal Shakespeare Company production? The actor's usual answer to this question involves agents and casting directors and years of graft at drama college.

But far from glazing over, Ishia Bennison's eyes light up.

"It happened because I worked with Dominic Cooke (director) on Arabian Nights and he was talking to Sean (Holmes) who directs Measure For Measure. And Sean used to be my daughter's boyfriend. He revised for his A-levels in my bath.

"He's a sweetheart. I mustn't have been too bad as a nearly mother-in-law."

The nearly mother-in-law will been seen at the Theatre Royal next week as Mistress Overdone in Measure For Measure and at the Playhouse the following week as the Queen in Cymbeline.

"So that's how I'm here," she says with a broad smile.

We never quite get to the bottom of the swotting in the bath scenario.

Ishia is making her debut with the RSC this season but EastEnders fans with longish memories will recall her as Guizin Osman, one of the characters in the BBC soap from 1985-9. She also played Denise Skidmore in four series of At Home With The Braithwates.

Previous Shakespearean roles have been with Northern Broadsides, a company which specialises in performing classical plays in north country accents.

Mistress Overdone is a minor character in Measure For Measure (in which a young woman, Isabella, is forced to surrender her chastity to save her brother's life). But every character is subject to major scrutiny at the RSC.

"The first question was, is she actually a whore or is she the madam?" says Ishia. "Does she do `it' any more? …

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