Audrey runs away with a circus show once more

Audrey Bisson and Stuart Goodwin  in La Strada, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, May 22-29
Audrey Bisson and Stuart Goodwin in La Strada, Lyceum Theatre, Sheffield, May 22-29

La Strada, Lyceum Theatre, May 22-7, www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk

The actor who plays a young woman who unwillingly runs away to join the circus in La Strada knows all about the circus life herself.

The play is an adaptation of Italian director Federico Fellini’s Oscar-winning 1954 road movie, set in bleak post-war Italy.

Gelsomina, a strange little urchin, is sold by her desperately poor mother to strongman Zampano, to work as his assistant in his street act.

She suffers cruelty at his hands as he drinks and womanises his way from town to town, eventually joining a circus.

There, she forms a friendship with the carefree acrobat and clown Il Matto and considers running away from her master to live her own life, but of course things are never that simple.

Canadian Audrey Brisson plays Gelsomina in the stage version of the film.

She knows about circus life from her time working as a singer and character in the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

Audrey said: “My first time with Cirque was when I was four.

“My father was a bandleader for them and I was with him on tour,so they added me in the show.”

She also appeared between the ages of 11 and 16, when her father had moved to London for work.

She said: “When you’re travelling, you end up learning tricks. It’s quite similar to this show.

“You see the similarities and it’s been quite useful.”

Audrey has worked before with the show’s director, Sally Cookson, and was thrilled to be asked to join the cast when Sally was wondering if she could transfer the film to a stage version.

Audrey said: “I love the way Sally works. I want to work with her again and again and again.”

She said that Gelsomina has a unique and very innocent view of the world and seems far younger than her years.

She’s rarely comfortable looking at people and being touched, which made Audrey think about a young woman with some form of autism.

Speaking of picking up tricks, Audrey had to learn to play the trumpet for this show.

She said: “I do a lot of physical theatre or actor-musician work. I found myself to be in shows where you always pick up a new trick. I hadn’t played a trumpet before October.”

Audrey has also worked in film with famous directors.

She had a tiny role in Hereafter, directed by Clint Eastwood and was very impressed with him.

She said: “The day I was shooting was my birthday. I remember sitting there in a trailer and was brought on set.

“They were between two scenes at that time and he talked to me for 10 minutes. He knew all about me and knew it was my birthday.

“We did the scene once, then that was it.”

She also worked on Madonna’s film, WE. Audrey remembers: “I wasn’t allowed to say anything about it. We did the scene many, many times.

“It must be very hard for her, it was only the second film she had directed. She had something to prove. It was quite something.

“With Clint Eastwood, I felt it was extremely relaxed and he was just a man.

“With Madonna, you felt that Madonna was in the room. There was a presence, respect and deference.”