Brian Beacom

LEARNING a theatre role can be tough - there’s the fear of making sure you entertain the audience, and not letting the cast down.

But how does it feel to have to learn five different parts?

That’s the prospect facing David Kristopher-Brown, now featuring in the stage classic, The Play That Goes Wrong.

The Glasgow-born actor is understudying all those roles, which means he can be called upon to play any of them.

“I’m on for one of my understudy roles today,” he says of the part of The Technician, speaking from the national tour.

“I haven’t done this role yet but I’ve come into the theatre early to make sure I’m good to go.”

He adds, smiling; “At least with this part The Technician has the script in front of him. I’ve got that to fall back on if I have to.”

Landing the role(s) of understudy arrives with mixed feelings; the actors desperately want to go on and show what they can do.

Yet, at the same time, they don’t want to wish ill of their colleagues, which allows for their own appearance.

“That’s pretty much it,” says David, laughing.

“I want to go on but I don’t do a deal with the Devil to make it happen.”

He adds; “But to be honest, sometimes the company will put us on at times to make sure we get the experience.

“The show is so technical it makes sense we really know what we are doing.

“And it’s so taxing on everyone else they do need a break from time to time.”

The Play That Goes Wrong is, without question, one of the funniest productions ever seen in the UK.

Set in the world of am-dram, we see the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society stage a performance of The Murder of Haversham Manor.

Anything that can go wrong does. The play is about chaos from start to finish but it’s cleverer than obvious farce.

It reveals an insight in the characters, the amateur actors who think they’re professionals, the hopeless and those desperate for attention.

Along the way, lines are forgotten, props fall to pieces, and it all results in the set collapsing - while audiences collapse with helpless laughter.

“There are big, marvellous West End shows,” says David, “but in this one everything is so interactive. This set has won a Tony Award and there’s a reason for it.

“Even though I’m part of this production, sometimes I just step back at look at it in awe and think ‘How can you even begin to come up with this concept?’ It’s brilliant.”

So far, David has already played Dennis The Butler, who can’t remember any of his lines. And he’s been Robert, who thinks he should be at the RSC and this show is his calling card.

David reveals that Robert has long been the part he dreamed of playing.

“I saw this show years ago at the Trafalgar Studios in London and loved the idea of playing a character who’s so deluded. He really believes he can act his way out of any situation.

“He really believes the sound of his voice and the power of his acting can solve anything – even when it all goes wrong.”

David also worked on the stage door at the Duchess Theatre in London, for two years when the show was running.

“It meant I really got to know this show. And over the years I’ve auditioned for the play three times.

“To finally go in stage, to have the dream realised has been surreal, and wonderful.”

David, who grew up in Cumbernauld was involved in junior theatre in Glasgow.

“My mum would play the music from Les Mis in the car. I always loved musical theatre and spent a lot of time at the King’s Theatre.”

He moved to London aged 18 to study at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.

Work, he admits, has been “up and down”. David reveals he came back to Glasgow recently to work front of house at the King’s Theatre.

“I had come back to Scotland to live with my fiancé until I landed this role. Meantime, she’s with her family in Cheshire.

“We were planning to get married in September, but the show runs then, so it could be August.”

Now, he’s set to appear on the King’s Theatre’s stage.

“That’s the nature of the business,” he says, grinning.

He admits you have to be a good all rounder in the business.

“Yes, I can move but I’m not a great dancer,” he admits, smiling. “And so many shows require so much of the performers these days.”

He’s a young man with great energy. So how does he cope when not getting the chance to work consistently?

“I try to do other things,” he says. “I go to the gym, or read plays or learn songs. My fiancé and I have a YouTube site.”

He has learned to cope with the downturns of the business.

“There was one year when I had no auditions for an entire year. That was tough. At one point I was selling Sky door to door.”

He adds, grinning; “Sometimes a little bit of self-doubt creeps in. But honestly, if I thought I could do anything else in life I would. But I can’t. Acting is a necessary evil but I love it.

“And when you get the chance to appear in a great play it’s amazing.”

• The Play That Goes Wrong, the King’s Theatre, until Saturday.