Mike Noble on his Liverpool stage debut in Corrina, Corrina
Mike Noble has been around the Liverpool theatre scene since he was born – so it’s a surprise to find out he has never appeared on stage in the city professionally. Until now that is.
The 34-year-old is among the cast of Corrina, Corrina, writer Chloe Moss’s powerful new shipboard thriller which receives its world premiere at the Everyman this month.
It’s a long-awaited Liverpool debut for the stage and screen actor, who started his career in the Playhouse Youth Theatre more than two decades ago but whose association with one of the forerunners of YEP goes back much further.
“My mum (actor and artistic director Margaret Connell) went to the Playhouse Youth Theatre when she was about 32 and I was a baby,” he explains. “They used to have an 18+ or 21+ group, or whatever it was, and so I was in the youth theatre in a pram, getting passed around and watching rehearsals.
“Then I joined the youth theatre myself when I got to 10 or 11. It was run by Morag Murchison and we’d meet at the Annexe next door to the Everyman, that was where we did our Saturday morning rehearsals.
“It was lovely, I’m so grateful for my experience – I wouldn’t have been an actor if I hadn’t done it.”
Corrina, Corrina, opening at the Everyman on May 17, is set in the claustrophobic confines of a container ship plying its passage from the UK to Singapore. The title character, played by Laura Elsworthy, has followed in her father’s merchant navy footsteps, but in a world still dominated by men not everyone welcomes her on board – and events soon become very dark indeed.
So what appealed for Noble?
He ponders: “There was home, there was the Everyman. And working with Headlong who are an amazing company (the play is a co-production) I did a week-long research week on it in London at the National Theatre studio at the end of last year. I just got an email saying ‘are you interested? And here’s the script’.
Above and top: Mike Noble in rehearsals for Corrina, Corrina at the Liverpool Everyman. Photos by Brian Roberts.
“I just think it’s one of the most brilliant plays I’ve read in a long time. It’s really well written, a really tight script, and Chloe is amazing. But it’s also a really messy subject; well it’s not messy, but it throws a lot of things together that complicate things and it just excited me.”
Coming, like many fellow Liverpudlians, from a long line of seafarers, Noble says that 80 years ago he’d have been more likely to find himself on board a ship than a stage. He has friends who are currently in the profession and spoke to them about their maritime experiences as part of his research.
He plays Will, second officer on the container ship, and – without giving too much away – not necessarily the nicest person on board.
“He’s been doing this for a few years and has worked his way up the ranks, he’s doing quite well,” the actor explains. “And he went to naval college with Corrina, that’s what we find out, they’ve got history.
He’s not a particularly nice person and so I wanted to make him very ordinary, because I think the things that are wrong with him are very ordinary and exist in a lot of blokes. There’s nothing too extraordinary about him.”
It’s more than 13 years now since Noble graduated from the Drama Centre in London. Since then he’s maintained a parallel career path on stage and on the big and small screen.
His most high-profile stage role probably remains Christopher in the National Theatre production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time in London, taking over from Luke Treadaway who originated the role.
“That was like I’d almost accidently won the lottery and landed this amazing play,” he smiles. “It was a huge show and a really loaded part and was a really big deal and an important show to be a part of. A lot of people still say to me...it stands out on the CV I think and I’m really proud to have been in it.”
Above: Writer Chloe Moss
Meanwhile screen appearances include films like World War Z and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and TV series like Home Fires, Mr Selfridge and Grantchester.
The last time he was in Liverpool was actually for a screen role, filming Jack Thorne’s raw Covid drama Help during the middle of lockdown.
“What a privilege,” he says. “It was amazing to get to do that. To work at home, to be telling an important story, while that important thing was still going on.
“We had rehearsals at LMA opposite the Hope Street Hotel and it was Jodie Comer and Stephen Graham and Ian Hart. It’s actually Scouse royalty! I had to have a word with myself not to bottle it when I went into the room.
“And then on set it grew even more, Sue Johnston walks in and you’re like, has there ever been such a brilliant Liverpool cast assembled by anyone?
“So that was really a privilege to be involved in and it was an amazingly important story. Brave to do because I think it was still close to everything going on. There was a risk that people might go – no, can’t look yet. But I think it went down quite well and people were moved by it.”
Theatre remains his first love though, he reveals, and nothing touches being in a rehearsal room – “it’s where I get my joy from” he says.
That joy is currently being experienced at Hope Street, bringing Moss’s intense and thought-provoking story vividly to life.
“We’re doing a play about patriarchy and capitalism. It’s not HMS Pinafore,” he says.
“Being in that situation on board is a real pressure cooker. It just allows for things to play out, for people to have to face up to stuff. Once you’re on that ship you can’t really walk away from things. It creates a literal life and death because it’s this lawless place.”
Corrina, Corrina is at the Liverpool Everyman from May 17 to June 4. Tickets HERE