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Crime thriller is perfect for an actress with inner steel

Claire Goose is used to playing strong but vulnerable women.

CHALLENGE: Claire Goose is returning to the stage for the first time in nine years to star opposite Les Dennis in touring production The Perfect Murder.
CHALLENGE: Claire Goose is returning to the stage for the first time in nine years to star opposite Les Dennis in touring production The Perfect Murder.

Up until now, most of these have been on the small screen, be it in the Edinburgh-born actress's breakout role as nurse Tina Seabrook in Casualty between 1997 and 2000, or as a woman who witnessed the murder of her mother aged seven in the forthcoming mini-series Undeniable.

This week, however, audiences will get to see her in the flesh when she stars alongside Les Dennis in the stage adaptation of Peter James's crime-thriller novel The Perfect Murder, which opens at the King's Theatre in Glasgow tomorrow night.

In the play, Goose plays the appositely named Joan Smiley, who has probably been married to her husband Victor just that little bit too long. As she commits herself to getting rid of her other half - forever - the feeling is clearly mutual.

"He's so disappointed in her," says Goose. "He goes to work, and is very set in his ways. He's older than her, so she's lost all of her friends, and she's so frustrated, because she's ended up being trapped in a loveless marriage.

"He starts an affair with a young prostitute and their relationship develops beyond sex, and they become quite close. Victor and Joan have reached a point where they never seem to laugh anymore, and it's as if he was waiting for a sign."

Despite such a damning domestic scenario, Goose remains sympathetic towards both partners, whatever crimes result from the acrimony.

"You can understand why they feel the way they do," she says. "Joan isn't really that bad, and what's lovely about the play is that you have to love both Joan and Victor."

Given that James's series of best-selling Roy Grace novels, of which The Perfect Murder forms part, have sold more than 14 million copies worldwide since the first one appeared a decade ago, Shaun McKenna's adaptation of this tale looks set to be popular.

"They thought it might be quite interesting to bring in a younger Roy Grace," Goose reveals, "so audiences who know the books can see how he might have been during the early part of his career, and what you end up with is something that's quite dark, but is also quite funny as well."

The Perfect Murder marks Goose's first time on stage for nine years. During that time, she spent several years on long-running police investigation series Waking The Dead, and another two on an even longer-running police show, The Bill. More recently, she appeared in the comedy drama Mount Pleasant. For someone who has spent so much time acting for TV, an undertaking such as The Perfect Murder must be quite a leap.

"It's a massive thing for me," Goose admits. "I haven't done theatre for years, and I've never toured, and this is a huge part. I'm on stage pretty much throughout the entire play, so it's a massive challenge, just vocally, and because I've done so much telly, where you can do take after take and are constantly trying to perfect the one scene, it's different. You can't stop and do it again if it's not quite right, so not every scene is going to be perfect. It's just not possible."

While McKenna's stage version of The Perfect Murder comes complete with a pre-existing fan-base, Goose too has a track record that may give audiences certain ideas about what to expect from the play's leading lady.

"You can get stuck in playing such similar parts," Goose says, "but Joan is probably the least vulnerable character I've played. She's quite downtrodden, but she's also quite ballsy. So, even though she's fragile, there's an inner strength. She's like a dog with a bone who, once she grabs hold of something, she won't let go."

With such a back catalogue of ballsy women in her repertoire, then, how much do they resemble Goose?

"I can be quite an emotional person," she admits. "I find it quite easy to tap in to my emotions. It's even easier since having kids.

"If anything awful about kids comes on telly, I just cry. But there's a determination in me as well. There has to be to do this job. You hear the word 'No' more than 'Yes', and you have to take it on the chin.

"So I suppose there are elements of me in these characters that I play, which is probably why I enjoy playing them, because you can take them further."

The Perfect Murder is at the King's Theatre, Glasgow, from tomorrow to Saturday.

www.atgtickets.com/venues/kings-theatre/

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