Rebecca Birch on her roles in A Tale of Two Cities

Rebecca Birch on her roles in A Tale of Two Cities

27 October 2016

by Beth Reynard

Interview: Did Jenny steal the mustard pot? Rebecca Birch talks about the roles she plays and how she got her break as an actress.

Rebecca Birch as teapot stealing JennyCan you give us a brief introduction to the characters that you play?
My two meaty roles are Jenny Herring in the opening court scene and I play the young seamstress at the end, headed to the guillotine. And lots and lots of ensemble roles in between, including a male servant.


How do you find multi-roling?
I love it. I’m really enjoying it. It’s my first proper multi-roling job. I’ve played two characters in plays before, but I have the most costume changes in the A Tale of Two Cities cast. I have 13 costume changes. So on a two-show day, that’s 26.


Do you have any quick costume changes?
Yes. In the carriage crash scene, I’m in the ensemble. But right at the end of that scene, the sliders open to reveal Marquis’ servants, and I’m one of those servants. So I have to run off and go from a female into a male. It’s a wig change and quite a layered costume, but that’s easier now that we’ve rehearsed it.


Did Jenny steal the mustard pot?
Yes. Absolutely. She did. But it's only silver plate so she didn’t get much for it.


How has your A Tale of Two Cities experience been? From rehearsal to performing, have there been any particular highlights?
The whole thing has just been amazing. James Dacre, our director, is such an incredible man to work with and the whole company as well. It’s really amazing. The second day of rehearsals, we had a full movement call with our movement director, Struan Leslie. And instantly we were in each other’s armpits, creating tableaux, learning how to stand and walk as people of the century. It was really full on. And in the afternoon we had a music call with our musical director. Usually, it's quite calm when you start rehearsals, but we were straight in with singing, dancing and moving.


Rebecca Birch as the young seamstress at the end of the play

How did you get to where you are now? How did you break into the industry?
I always have been performing. I would force my family at Christmas to watch a show that I had created and made all of my cousins perform in.  So my mum put me in dance and drama classes. I’m from a small town called Colchester, which is in Essex, and there wasn’t much going on there really. We had a great Amateur Dramatics at the Mercury Theatre, which is brilliant and that had an in-house company. They would run a summer school every year so I went to that every year, led by the actors. There was the sixth form where you could study drama and I was planning on doing a BTEC in Musical Theatre. But my drama teacher at the time told me about the drama schools in London. She helped me apply to Arts Educational sixth form and I got in. I moved to London when I was 16, I worked two jobs and went to college.


Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities over two centuries ago. Do you think the story is still relevant to audiences today?
Absolutely. With the current blows of Brexit, it couldn’t be more contemporary.



A Tale of Two Cities opens at Royal & Derngate, Northampton, where it plays from 10 to 17 September 2016. It then tours to Oxford Playhouse, Richmond Theatre, Bradford Alhambra, Blackpool Grand, Wolverhampton Grand, Brighton Theatre Royal, Edinburgh King's, Cheltenham Everyman and Nottingham Theatre Royal. 

Get tickets for this show by visiting our tour page.