Behind-the-Scenes with Drew Cain

We wanted to give you a sneak peek at the brilliant cast of ‘The Croft’, first up the wonderful Drew Cain who plays David and Alec…
Tell us about your character(s) in The Croft?
I play David and Alec. David lives in present day Toscaig, close to Coille Ghillie in Wester Ross. He’s lived there all his life. He’s the local ghillie and he has a close affinity to the croft. He’s known Laura since she was only six months old and was close to Ruth, her mother for years before that. David was with Ruth when she died. His relationship with Tom, Ruth’s husband is strained to say the least. I don’t want to say any more than that.
Alec lived in Wester Ross in the 1800s. He was an estate hand that had an illicit relationship with Eileen. He tries to rescue Eileen from an angry mob of locals intent on burning down the home of Enid McCrae. You’ll have to watch the play to see if he succeeds.
What is it like working on a world premiere of a show?
What’s really exciting about working on a world premiere of a show is that we’ve come to this with no preconceptions about how things should be done. There are no rules, no rigid guidelines that we have to adhere to because we don’t have to compare or replicate anything that’s gone before. As an actor, that’s incredibly exciting because there’s so much more scope for discovery and opportunity to play around a find what works. There has been a lot of that on this show; not only during the rehearsal process but even during the run. I’ve found things out through trying stuff in front of a live audience and seeing what they respond to. David and Alec have both matured and developed as characters over the last few weeks and I’m delighted about that. I’m sure these discoveries will continue right until the end of the tour. I’m loving my time on stage. It’s all very exciting.
Do you have a favourite moment or line in the show (no spoilers please!)?
Yes. I have three in particular. One favourite moment is during my first scene. The audience isn’t sure how to take David at the beginning. He’s rather stern and he puts people on edge, including the characters of Laura and Suzanne. After a while he utters one word, just one word and the reaction from the audience every night is pure magic. You’ll spot the change as soon as I say it.
The second is during David’s second scene when he’s boasting about not being bothered about things that go bump in the night. Again, I can’t say too much and thirdly, in a flashback scene to David and Ruth in 2005 there’s a story about Denholm Elliot that I love. In fact, that scene is my favourite scene to play. It’s just lovely. I look forward to that every night.
Do you prefer working in theatre or on screen, and why?
That’s like asking if I prefer cheese or cake, beer or wine. They are two very different mediums and I just can’t compare the two. I enjoy both in equal measure but for entirely different reasons. Before I became an actor, I was an assistant director in the film and television industry so I’m very relaxed around a film set. It’s definitely where I feel most at ease. I enjoy all aspects of filming, from sitting in the make up chair in the morning and having a gossip over a cup of tea with the make up team to creating a scene made up of various wide shots, two shots and close ups. There’s the added bonus of having the chance to retake the scene if you mess up your lines.
Theatre on the other hand is a different beast altogether. It’s live, it’s raw and it’s a little bit scary. Its exhilarating though. There’s something about live theatre in front of a big audience that’s magical. The immediate connection you have with people gives me a thrill. You can feel the audience go with you and you can adapt your performance accordingly. I’d have to say in that regard, theatre is the more rewarding.
Do you have any backstage rituals or superstitions?
I don’t have what I’d call a ritual or superstition. However, I am very much a creature of habit. I get into costume at the same time every night. I position myself in the wings at the same time and I check my props are all in the right place. The one concession I do make to what might by regarded as a ritual is that I put a hip flask in my pocket at the start of each show and tap my breast pocket every few minutes to make sure it’s there. I use it later in the play, you see and if I don’t walk on stage with it at a later point, I’m in trouble.
How do you warm up before a show?
We have access to the stage for a company warm up 90 minutes before a show. I tend to warm up in my dressing room. I have a yoga mat that I carry with me. I lie on my back and carry out a series of breathing exercises and vocal warm ups before standing up and doing some more.
Do you have any funny stories or anecdotes from behind the scenes of The Croft?
There are a few I’d like to tell but if I did I’d give away too many spoilers about what happens in the show. I can tell you that at a certain point each night, after a costume change, myself and Lucy Doyle are sprayed down with a water spray gun to look like we’ve come in from the rain. Most nights, when our dresser has finished, Lucy picks up the bottle and sprays in my face, my eyes or my ears. I then have to walk on looking all serious when half he time I can hardly see where I’m going. I’m going to get her back one of these days.
How do you make yourself feel at home in a theatre for the week?
The first thing that I set up in my dressing room each week is my Nespresso coffee machine. I carry it around in a little zip up camera bag and it’s the most important addition to my dressing table. I don’t drink loads of coffee but I like at least one a day around two hours before a show.
What is your favourite theatre to work in or are you most excited to visit?
The theatre that will always be close to my heart is the Royal Exchange in Manchester. It was where I was given my first theatre job and I fell in love with the building. It’s a special place to work.
As for this tour, well, every theatre is an adventure for me because I’ve not played at any of the venues before apart from Perth. I’m really looking forward to Perth because it’s a beautiful city and a fantastic place to spend time in. I’m interested to see how the theatre has changed because the last time I was there I appeared in Blythe Spirit just before the theatre closed for three years to undergo a renovation.
The Croft tours until April. Find all the details here.