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Dirty Protest stages Kelly's psychological thriller set in nuclear fall-out bunker as first full-length production; After staging short dramas in pubs, clubs and even a yurt, theatre company Dirty Protest is preparing for its first full-length production. Karen Price catches up with leading lady Kezia Burrows to find out what audiences can expect.

Byline: Karen Price

R EHEARSING for a drama which is based in a bunker following a nuclear attack sounds like a pretty intense experience but actress Kezia Burrows seems to be having the time of her life.

She's part of Dennis Kelly's two-hander After The End, which will be premiered in Wales next week by Dirty Protest. It's the first time the Cardiff-based theatre company, which is renowned for taking drama into unusual spaces, is putting on a full length production.

Directed by Mared Swain, it also stars Gruffudd Glynn.

"Rehearsals have been full on but they've been good," says Burrows, who starred in the BBC Wales hospital drama Crash.

"There's also been a lot of laughter which I don't think any of us were expecting. Gruff is able to bring humour to some of the darkest moments. I'm really surprised we're having so much fun with it."

After The End was written by Olivier Award-winner Kelly - who is best known for his television series Pulling and for co-writing the hit West End show Matilda The Musical - and produced by Paines Plough in 2005.

It's a psychological thriller set in modern day London when a nuclear attack leaves colleagues Mark and Louise fighting for survival in a fall-out bunker. The playwright explores terrorism in its many brutal forms.

"It starts off with us in the bunker and Mark explaining to Louise how they got there as she's out of it," says Burrows, who grew up in Carmarthen.

"We stay in the bunker for the majority of the play and there are plenty of twists and turns. There has to be a lot of trust between the two actors."

She and Glynn did not know each other before starting work on the drama but she's full of praise for her latest co-star.

"He's brilliant, very clever - he comes at things from different angles. Mark is a very complex character but he breaks down that character and finds all the different layers which makes my job easier. He's very easy to work with and a very strong performer."

But she has a long-standing friendship with Swain - the pair were members of the National Youth Theatre of Wales at the same time and have been in contact ever since.

"She was my link to Dirty Protest," says the 30-year-old. "They came to the Camden Roundhouse in London which was when I met the rest of the company."

Since then, Burrows has been involved in some script-in-hand performances with Dirty Protest and she's pleased to be starring in the first full-length production, which takes place at Sherman Cymru in Cardiff.

She says being directed by her friend makes the job easier.

"Although this is Mared's first full length production as a director, she's really put the work in. She has such patience and she knows the play thoroughly. There's never a problem as far as Mared's concerned - it's all about finding solutions."

Along with playwright Tim Price and Claire Hill, Swain is one of the founder's of Dirty Protest, which was launched in 2007 to 'shake up' the world of new writing in Cardiff.

The aim was to produce accessible new work of high quality but keeping ticket prices low. Since then Dirty Protest has worked with more than 100 writers producing short performances in bars and clubs, with regular 'yurt' events in Milgi, Cardiff.

Work has also been taken to various theatre spaces in Cardiff and beyond, including Sherman Cymru, the Wales Millennium Centre, Galeri in Caernarfon and the Latitude Festival.

But Swain says the time is right to produce a full length play on the main stage.

"We are very excited about producing our first full length production," says Swain. "Our supporters enjoy the fact we produce accessible short pieces of theatre in unusual spaces but we also wanted the opportunity to produce something a little more on this occasion, with a full set and production values.

"It's [After The End] a dark psychological thriller that's got a real gripping script. The play is a very skilful exploration of the qualities of human interaction under extreme circumstances. As intense as the situation is in this play, there are moments of humour and real emotional intensity which are a joy to explore."

Burrows is now looking forward to seeing the audiences' reactions to the piece before she moves onto her next project - as the all-action star of computer games. She's already done some 'motion capture' work - recording movements which are turned into animated digital characters.

"I absolutely love it - it's very physical. I'm getting to be an action hero which is something I've wanted to do since I was born. The more and more I do motion capture, the more I want to move towards action roles."

So what would be her dream role? "I think a Bond Girl is something I'd definitely like to be in the future but maybe not in a bikini coming out of the sea - I'd rather be in a wetsuit with a gun," she laughs. * After The End is at Sherman Cymru, Cardiff, from Wednesday to next Saturday. The box office number is 029 2064 6900 or visit www.shermancymru.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

* Kezia Burrows at rehearsals for Dirty Protest's production of After the End * Director Mared Swain and actor Gruffudd Glynn in rehersal for Dennis Kelly's play * PICTURES: Kirsten Mcternan
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 7, 2012
Words:895
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