Theatre preview: Ex-EastEnder Charlie Clements swaps geeky Bradley for the military life in Falklands play
PUBLISHED: 10:42 17 May 2012
The former Albert Square regular stars in Faith, his first London stage role since leaving the soap
As the ginger-haired, jumper-clad property salesman Bradley Branning, he was known for being young, naïve and a bit of a nerd.
But Charlie Clements has left the geeky EastEnders character far behind in his latest incarnation – as a muscle-clad army soldier stuck in the horrors of the 1982 Falklands War.
The 24-year-old, who is playing Private Mick Pike in the revival of Meredith Oakes’ Faith at The Courtyard theatre in Hoxton, is relishing the challenge.
Charlie said: “Bradley was very geeky, very naïve, very young. In this, I am playing a 20-year-old army private from Liverpool. That’s the point – to show that I can do this.
“Neither character is like me. I don’t think I am like Bradley. I am not that naïve.
“But I am also not anything to do with the military, I am not from Liverpool, and the character I am playing is a few notches up on the mental scale – he is probably the sanest one, but he still has the capability to go mental.”
To help get into character, Charlie took part in an army boot camp with an ex-marine in Regent’s Park – to the bemusement of any yummy mummies or dog walkers who happened to amble past.
He said: “We wanted to get an idea of what it would be like – not that we were put through even a tenth of what they do.
“We were put through our paces – running around doing press-ups and sit-ups and wheelbarrowing people.”
Charlie, who lives in Richmond, has been acting since he was four – when he used to attend weekend drama classes. His first big break came at 18, when he won the part of Bradley in EastEnders.
With his dairy intolerance, nut allergy and chequered jumpers, Bradley was one of the geekier characters on the Square.
But that did not stop him from engaging in a tempestuous relationship with troubled Stacey Slater – a relationship that eventually saw him plunge to his death during a police chase in a dramatic live episode.
“I wanted him to die,” said Charlie, who won a clutch of awards for his portrayal of the character. “I wanted to draw a line under it.”
His current venture, Faith, is centred on soldiers hiding out in a Falklands farmhouse. They have captured a mercenary – and have received orders to kill him, but have not been given the reason why.
“It’s about the fact that in the army, they are given orders to carry out without any reason.,” said Charlie. “Morally, is it right? Some of them think it isn’t right to kill him but they don’t have the right to question it.”
To Charlie, who is fascinated by military history, it is important for people to remember that generations have experienced the horrors of war.
He said: “I can’t understand what it must be like to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, to be given an order and told to carry it out, to do a fireman’s carry with a man who is a dead weight because he is injured, plus his kit and his weapon, plus your kit and your weapon. “You see kids getting stabbed and shot and it’s such a waste of life. People fought so we could be here and they just don’t seem to remember.”
* Faith is at The Courtyard theatre in Bowling Green Walk, off Pitfield Street, N1, from May 23 until June 16. Tickets priced at £15 (£12.50 concessions) are available on 0844 477 1000 or via www.ticketweb.co.uk