CAN’T get enough of real world political upheaval? Fancy an evening spent in a nerve-jangling dystopian nightmare? Then check out Foxfinder at London’s Ambassadors Theatre.
The play stars Heida Reed (pictured above), best known for playing Elizabeth in TV show Poldark, and former EastEnder Paul Nicholls, as a couple who own a farm in a bleak near-future England — toiling under the yoke of a totalitarian regime. Iwan Rheon, famed for his role as sadistic Ramsay Bolton in Game Of Thrones, plays William Bloor the Foxfinder — tasked with investigating the couple and why the farm isn’t as productive as it should be.
After mulling it over, Heida decides she can’t reveal what sort of foxes William is finding — although it’s a safe bet they aren’t four-legged and furry — or even much about what her character gets up to. ‘It’s really difficult without giving the core of the play away,’ says Heida.
‘It’s fast-paced, there’s a lot of suspense and there are some darkly comic moments. The key thing is this is a patriarchal society, the government is watching the citizens and everyone is in service to the state. It’s very timely. If we head down certain paths, this is potentially where we could end up.’
This is Heida’s first major acting project since viewers saw her Poldark character, Elizabeth, die during childbirth in the Sunday night bonnet bonanza back in July.
‘I couldn’t have asked to work with a more lovely group of people — cast, crew and production. I hope to work with them again on something,’ she says of the programme.
But it doesn’t sound like she’s had time to miss her old cast mates. ‘I don’t feel too bad to have left because I still see them all. They came to see the play. Unfortunately, they included me in a group message about tickets so I knew which performance they came to — which stressed me out. I’d rather not know.’
Heida was inspired to act when she saw Stefán Karl Stefánsson, famous for playing Robbie Rotten in Lazytown, in a musical in Reykjavik when she was aged 12. ‘Sadly he passed away very recently. He was a big inspiration for me. I saw him in Singing In The Rain. I was absolutely mesmerised. I remember walking away thinking I want to make people feel the way he’s made me feel,’ she says.
Despite Iceland’s small size, it makes an impressive amount of TV shows and films. Heida was nominated for the Icelandic equivalent of a BAFTA for her role in noir crime TV drama Stella Blómkvist last year, but she left the country as a teenager for the UK. ‘I wanted to get more of an international training so it made sense to train in London. The training is brilliant here and there is some of the best drama in the world.’
After Poldark and Foxfinder, Heida would like to do a bit of comedy. She advises everyone to see Eighth Grade — Bo Burnham’s film about the ‘cringey uncomfortableness of how awkward and catastrophic everything seems when you’re 12 or 13,’ she says. What was she like at that age? ‘I was falling in love with boys, listening to Celine Dion and drawing elaborate pictures of mermaids,’ she laughs. ‘I had a lovely childhood.’
Looking back, how did her decision to leave Iceland go? ‘I consider myself lucky. I don’t know if I had a clear plan. My ambition was to get into drama school, graduate and get a job. So I’d say things have gone quite well.’
Who could disagree?
■ Foxfinder, Ambassadors Theatre, until October 20, foxfinder.co.uk