Patricia Hodge is coming to Yorkshire with a play more than a century old. Nick Ahad found out what keeps her on the road.
she’s won an Olivier award, appeared in Harold Pinter’s film of Betrayal and travelled the country with award-winning theatre work.
But to many, these days, she is best known for playing Miranda Hart’s mother in the wildly successful BBC sitcom.
“Oh I think that’s probably just a younger generation, but it doesn’t actually matter to me how people perceive me. That’s not something I think about or worry about, I’m just concerned with making good work,” says Patricia Hodge.
It’s fair to say that it probably is a younger generation that will only know Hodge through her work with Miranda Hart – the actor’s CV is pretty impressive.
After making her debut in Two Gentlemen of Verona at the Phoenix Theatre in 1972, her breakthrough role came the following year in the West End premiere of Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin, directed by Bob Fosse. She went on to build a career out of strong parts in good plays. She was in The Elephant Man with John Hurt, The Naked Civil Servant and was also on television screens in Rumpole of the Bailey and The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil.
Although she has reached “a certain age – the age when good parts for women actors start to dry up”, she continues to work and is on tour with Dandy Dick, a revival of a sparkling British comedy that comes to York as part of a national tour next week.
Written 125 years ago in Brighton, Dandy Dick tells the hilarious story of the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd, a pillar of Victorian respectability, who preaches regularly against the evils of horseracing and gambling. But a visit from his tearaway sister, Georgiana, leads him to risk all at the races, much against his better judgment.
Mayhem ensues, with romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and a runaway horse.
The play has been brought back to the stage – opening in its home of Brighton, by famed and respected director Christopher Luscombe and Hodge plays Georgiana in the new production.
When we speak Hodge is in Glasgow with the show and while some of the hard schlep of taking a show on tour around the country remains as hard as ever, Hodge takes a delightfully breezy approach to travelling the country with a play.
“The hard part is being away from home, but when I go out on tour I like to strap on my boots and get out in the city we are playing,” she says.
“It’s a really wonderful way to see the country. Normally, you only see a place if you go there for a day visit or stay overnight, but to be in a city for almost a week and get the chance to really look around is wonderful.”
When she arrives in York next week, however, Hodge will have to get walking pretty quickly if she is going to cram in much sightseeing during her brief stop off in the city. With three matinees through the week, the schedule is demanding, but, says Hodge, it is also rewarding.
“The interesting thing is that we are taking this very old play around the country, but very few people will remember having seen it – the last time it was produced was with Alistair Sim and Patricia Routledge when I was in Pippin in 1973,” she says.
“It’s a wonderful, funny play. I choose the work I do based on how good it is. I wouldn’t do a good part in a bad play, everything has to be good if I’m going to leave home and tour the country with it.
“Because the play hasn’t been seen for such a long time, it’s almost like a new play.
“Audiences are having a fabulous time and really enjoying a really funny play, but the challenge is for us to convince them to come across threshold into the theatre and take a risk on something they might not know.”