Aden Gillett admits he's still fighting stage terrors

Aden Gillett (Mike) and Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer) in CAROLINE'S KITCHEN. Credit Sam Taylor
Aden Gillett (Mike) and Caroline Langrishe (Caroline Mortimer) in CAROLINE'S KITCHEN. Credit Sam Taylor

Last year he was Mr Winslow in The Winslow Boy in a tour which took in Chichester. Over Christmas he was Scrooge in A Christmas Carol in his first-ever stint at Stratford.

Now Aden Gillett is on the road with Torben Betts’ Caroline’s Kitchen with dates including April 3-6 at the Connaught Theatre, Worthing.

Not bad going for an actor who freely admits he struggles to be an actor…

“I look back with huge fondness on The Winslow Boy, but it was quite difficult really. I do find acting quite a struggle, but it was a show that gave people a lot of pleasure. I loved the cast, and I adored working with director Rachel Kavanaugh. She is one of our very best directors, and I thought it was a very good production.”

But yes, acting is – and always will be – a struggle: “But I don’t think I can actually do anything else. I can’t change my ways, and I don’t think anybody else would have me! I get quite nervous in front of an audience, and I know that that sounds feeble and weak, but I find it quite a big barrier, and not really in a useful way. I have to really fight to get over my fear.

“I just get through it somehow. You never really get over it. I remember the last show we did of The Winslow Boy, and I had a great wave of ‘Oh Christ!’ It will just catch you when it wants to, and there is nothing you can do about it. A lot of actors tend to get it more or less. I just tend to get it more!”

But Christmas brought its rewards with A Christmas Carol: “It was a whopping great show, a really big show, and it was my first show in Stratford, I am quite ashamed to say after 34 years of being an actor.”

Did it come with a weight of expectation, thinking of all those greats who have been Scrooge in the past?

“It’s quite good being a dimwit. I didn’t find any problem forgetting about the others! Alastair Sim was the one that I remember most clearly, but mine is a very, very different version.”

There was someone very specific Aden had in his mind for his inspiration, and we had better not say who – “someone who makes people’s lives an absolute misery, who speaks in this horrible plausible little way but is an absolute ****.”

Just the inspiration Aden needed during a busy time during which he was playing Scrooge in the evenings and rehearsing Caroline’s Kitchen in the mornings.

In the new play, Caroline Mortimer, the nation’s favourite TV cook, has it all: a sparkling career, a big house in fashionable North London, a (golf) loving husband, smart kids and the best kitchen money can buy. But beneath the immaculate furnishings and studio lighting and away from the glare of the ever-present cameras, Caroline must face the looming collision of living a private life in the public eye. The piece looks at what happens when the cameras turn off and the truth comes out?

“I know the writer a little bit, and I workshopped this play a couple of years ago. We did about four versions in front of an audience in and around Bury St Edmunds and Ipswich, and I thought it was very, very funny. They have rewritten it.

“It went out last year as Monogamy. Now it has been rewritten again and is going out as Caroline’s Kitchen. There is this celebrity chef and it is all good on the surface, but the reality is very different and increasingly chaotic.

“ I am playing the husband who is a bit of a nightmare. He is a rich banker who has made lots and lots of money… Basically it is a black comedy. It is a bit like Ayckbourn, a bit like Joe Orton…”

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