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Interview: Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva on new play 51 Shades of Maggie

Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva sets her inhibitions aside for her role in new play 51 Shades of Maggie

Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva who stars in 51 Shades of Maggie
Former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva who stars in 51 Shades of Maggie

It's called 51 Shades of Maggie, and the main prop is a massive bright pink circular bed, with a leopard skin print trim.

I think we can safely say subtlety isn’t at the top of the list for this new production, which kicks off a UK tour at the Theatre Royal Newcastle, on September 10.

The play, which is based on the book, which was based on the facebook blog - all three by Leesa Harker - is a self-confessed potty-mouthed spoof of the 50 Shades of Grey literary phenomenon which saw author E L James’ explicit trilogy top best-seller lists the world over - while simultaneously attracting some of the worst reviews ever written.

Having enjoyed sell-out runs in Belfast and Glasgow, 51 Shades of Maggie (that would be Maggie Muff - what else?) is now embarking on a three-month tour, with former Emmerdale actress Adele Silva taking the reins... or whips... or whatever else is under the bed, which comes complete with a Paris Hilton duvet cover and matching cushions, by the way.

“It’s certainly the most challenging thing I’ve done,” says the 32-year-old, referring to the one-woman nature of the show she’s in rehearsals for.

“But it was that which attracted me to it.

“I spoke to my agent and she explained the story of how it had all started in Belfast. She told me it was really funny and that it was a one-woman show. The minute she said that a little light bulb went off. For an actor it’s the ultimate challenge.

“It’s not like being a comedian who stands there and has to tell jokes. You have to tell a story, through all these different characters, and you’re the only one with the lines.

“I was over the moon to get an audition... and then when I got it, I thought **** - actually maybe I haven’t thought this through.”

Actress Adele Silva plays Maggie Muff (in character) in 51 Shades of Maggie
Actress Adele Silva plays Maggie Muff (in character) in 51 Shades of Maggie

(Let’s just say Adele said a word here which we’ll put down to her spending so much time in character in recent weeks.)

Focusing on the lovable Maggie - we don’t need to say her surname again - and her search for love, as the story unfolds we find this workingclass girl has been let down by all the men in her life.

So when an interview at the social security office puts her in front of the handsome hunk, called Mr Big (presumably there’s a nod to Sex in the City at some point), she thinks this could be the dreamy other half she’s been looking for.

And then she finds out about his Private Room of Pain...

(For those of us who haven’t partaken in the 50 Shades of Grey offering, we need to know here that its core relationship, between graduate, Anastasia and young business magnate Christian Grey is based around the signing of a ‘dominance and submission’ contract. Enough said.) “It is very naughty and the language certainly needs the age restriction on the poster,” says Adele, referencing the 16+ recommendation.

“But on the other side of it, because it’s so funny, the humour kind of glosses over the bad language.

“I mean, don’t get me wrong, the language is shocking. But when I went to see the show in Belfast, I actually kind of forgot about that because you totally buy into the character of Maggie and she is so likeable... and the script is so funny.

“It was really important to me that I conveyed that likeability too.

“I was watching Charlotte - from Geordie Shore - on Celebrity Big Brother the other night and I tweeted ‘if you like Charlotte, you’ll love Maggie’. She’s the same kind of straight-up, honest girl. I’m so pleased we’re kicking off in Newcastle.”

Although admitting she read all three of the 50 Shades books in 10 days flat (it probably would have been less, but WH Smiths were sold out of the second instalment the first time she went to buy it), Adele says the comedy in 51 Shades cuts through anything which might get the audience hot under the collar.

“The 50 Shades of Grey books were so explicit, you did kind of hope no-one on the tube saw you reading them,” she laughs. “Whereas with this, all of the sexual stuff is quite awkward, which makes it funny.

“It’s the mucked up, skew-whiff version, which takes all of the uncomfortable-ness away.”

That said, Adele, who played Emmerdale’s feisty temptress Kelly Windsor on and off for more than a decade, isn’t too sure all of her immediate family will be lining up to come to the show.

“I have to be honest, I don’t know whether my dad will come but my mum can’t wait,” she laughs. “She’s already telling me all of the friends she’s going to be bringing along. I know they’ll love it.”

Although primarily known for her TV work, the actress, who trained at Sylvia Young Drama School, says she enjoys embracing some stage work.

“This year has been all about the theatre. Before starting this, I was playing Cathy in Wuthering Heights and then after this, I’m going straight to York to play the Wicked Queen in panto.

“But that’s what I love about the job. You never know what you might be doing next.”

:: 51 Shades of Maggie plays at Theatre Royal Newcastle from September 10 to 14. For tickets, call 08448 11 21 21 or visit www.theatreroyal.co.uk


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