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Thorny and dark.

Byline: SARAH BATLEY

THE chance to play a dark comedy, in modern dress, is a rare role for Philip Bretherton, an actor more usually associated with classics, from George Bernard Shaw to Oscar Wilde and Noel Coward.

"There's more colourful language than usual, so that's also a change for me," said Phillip, in a break from rehearsals for Gary Owen's new play Blackthorn at Mold's Clwyd Theatre Cymru.

He plays Tom, who moves with his wife Kate (Vivien Parry) from London after their 16-year-old daughter Evie (Amy Morgan) is blackmailed over a sexual encounter.

"It is quite a dark piece, with a black edge, but it is a lot of fun," said Phillip.

"They want to wipe the slate clean, start all over again by moving to a cottage in Wales, but they're not telling anybody why."

The play, directed by Terry Hands, depicts the clash between the newcomers, with their expectations, and the way of life that Welsh farmer Huw (Ifan Huw Dafydd), from whom they bought the smallholding, holds dear.

"Tom and Kate are liberals, arty farty with good intentions, from the big city and they build a relationship with the farmer and his son, which forms the crux of the play.

"Huw doesn't make life easy for them especially when he realises they want to make changes and alterations to land for which he's got sentiments.

"They want to build, and to tear up the orchard, so he starts making life difficult for them.

"I have sympathy for both views. They all behave badly - Tom and Kate want to relocate, it's not just a weekend cottage in Wales, but they are English people making a start in another culture, making gaffes along the way."

Philip also enjoys breathing life into words never spoken before to an audience.

"That's the joy of a new work, that there's no precedents, you're doing it for the first time," he added.

An associate of the theatre, Philip was seen last season as Henry Higgins in Shaw's Pygmalion. In his 20-year career, he's starred as Alistair Deacon in the hit BBC sitcom As Time Goes By, while in Coronation Street he played car salesman and love rat Ian Davenport.

He was also in ITV''s Footballers Wives as Stefan Hauser, the steely German manager of Earls Park FC, and recently popped up in Midsomer Murders.

His last stage role was in Noel Coward's Hay Fever at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, opposite Maggie Steed.

Gary Owen's work includes Crazy Gary''s Mobile Disco, Amgen: Broken and Mrs Reynolds and the Ruffian. He has worked with Paines Plough, the National Theatre, Sgript Cymru and the national theatres of Scotland and Wales.

TICKETSDancing at Lughnasa, Mold Clwyd Theatr Cymru, Sept 30-Oct 23.

Tickets clwydtheatr-cymru.co.uk or 0845 330 3565

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Philip Bretherton in a break from rehearsals for Blackthorn, directed by Terry Hands at Clwyd Theatr Cymru
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 8, 2010
Words:482
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