Successful Sunderland actress returns home for latest play

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AN actress whose love of theatre began in the stalls at Sunderland’s Royalty Theatre is back in the region to tread the boards.

Laura Elphinstone, 29, from High Barnes, has forged a successful acting career since moving to London 11 years ago.

Now, for the first time, she will be in the spotlight on home turf, starring in Utopia at Live Theatre, Newcastle.

The play, which also stars comedian Rufus Hound in his stage debut, features the work of eight writers and is making its world premiere in the region.

Laura, a former Barnes Junior School pupil, said: “My dad was artistic director at the Royalty Theatre, so my introduction to theatre began with him. I would sit in the stalls and watch the show. My mum also did a bit of acting and is still involved in the theatre.

“It’s such an incredibly important thing for the city. It’s a place for all sorts of theatre from the classics, to the bums on seats productions to pantomime and new writing.”

Since studying her craft at the Guildford School of Acting, Laura has gone on to appear in The Crucible for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the film adaptation of The History Boys and many other productions.

Her latest theatrical challenge sees six characters, searching for Utopia through the eyes of eight writers.

It’s performed at Live Theatre before running at Soho Theatre, London, from June 20-July 14.

Laura said: “This is my first job up here. I’ve lived in London for 11 years and it’s bizarre because the North East is usually somewhere I come to relax, not work.”

Talking about her love for her craft, Laura said: “The thing I love about acting is that I get to try on so people and for those moments I get to be in somebody else’s shoes.

“One month you could be a puritan in the crucible, the next in a play about a hen do in the North East or a play about the First World War. You become so knowledgable about those lives. You get to research these people and learn bits about our country’s history and its people.”

l Utopia is at Newcastle Live Theatre, Broad Chare, Newcastle, until June 16. Tickets are £10 - £18 from tel. 232 1232 or www.live.org.uk.

Twitter: @sunechokaty