INTERVIEW: Hannah Waterman on Carrie’s War at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre

After Calendar Girls on stage comes Carrie’s War for Hannah Waterman - two very different shows which, perhaps surprisingly, are getting pretty much the same kind of reaction.

There is laughter in both; so too is there something quite poignant.

Nina Bawden’s best-loved classic, adapted for the stage by Emma Reeves, is at Worthing’s Connaught Theatre from Monday-Saturday November 1-6 - the tale of Carrie Willow and her brother Nick, wartime evacuees, sent from London to the mining valleys in Wales.

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Like thousands of other English children at the outset of World War II, they find themselves plunged into a strange new world of rural living with dangers and adventures of its own.

The pair encounter a group of characters who will change Carrie’s life forever: from the tyrannical Mr Evans, kind-hearted Auntie Lou (played by Hannah), eccentric Mrs Gotobed, to the brilliant young Albert Sandwich and Hepzibah Green, the ‘witch’ at Druid’s Bottom.

Part of the attraction is that it is written from a child’s perspective, Hannah says: “We see Carrie growing up during the course of the war as she matures, and she analyses the characters around her and what is going on. She has a unique perspective.”

And that’s what brings in the youngsters on a tour which is getting plenty of repeat business: “People come early in the week and then they come back with their children and their grandchildren. We have had Q&A sessions and met lots of mature adults who actually were evacuated. In the play, Carrie and Nick don’t really have too tough a time of it, but we have heard horrific tales where the children were given the boxes that their parents sent food in, but not the food itself!”

It all adds up to another happy chapter for Hannah, a veteran of four and a half years in EastEnders and 15 years in the business in all: “It’s an unpredictable and inconsistent business, but you don’t go into it for that. You go into it for love or because you can’t do anything else! I speak to children who want to become actors or, worse, want to become famous, and I think if you want to become famous, don’t become an actor. If you want to be an actor, you have got to give 100 per cent commitment. In the current climate, it is getting harder and harder. I’ve been lucky in the past few years, but I have got lots of friends that are wonderful actors that have been out of work for months and months.”

Hannah remembers in her early days making her living out of making appearances in the kinds of dramas that just aren’t being made any more: “But fortunately theatre is going through a good time at the moment.”

Tickets for Worthing on 01903 206206.