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Cate Blanchett stars in her own theatre company’s award winning play Big and Small

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»Like some Antipodean angel Cate Blanchett, one of the biggest movie stars on the planet, descends onto the Barbican stage to star in a critically acclaimed new play.

Big and Small (Gross und Klein) by Botho Strauss has been adapted by Sydney Theatre Company (STC) – Blanchett and her husband’s outfit – and had audiences going wild down under in a six week run before Christmas.

Now the production is on the move, touring Paris, Vienna, Germany and for two weeks – starting today – at the Barbican.

The story centres around Lotte, played by Blanchett, who tries to rekindle old friendships and make new ones after a messy break up with her husband.

As she meets a lot of weird and wonderful characters she suffers rejection and begins to feel alienated.

Two of these are played by former Islington resident Richard Pyros, who says the play is more uplifting than the plot would suggest.

“The subject matter is quite dark, but it’s a joyous production with a lot of comedy,” he said.

“That’s one of the most amazing things about her [Blanchett’s] performance. She is on stage for three hours and shows eternal optimism in the face of all this.”

Mr Pyros portrays two of the people Lotte encounters on her travels - a drifter, Yurgen, and Alf, a bureaucrat fellow who ends up in an unlikely relationship with her.

How did he find working so closely with the Hollywood siren?

“It’s been great actually,” he said. “She has been my boss for the last couple of years at the STC.

“But I never got a chance to work with her closely before and it has been quite extraordinary. She is very strong and warm and has a clear vision of what the company should achieve.

“To step into a rehearsal room and see her actively make herself just another actor is inspiring.”

Mr Pyros spent a couple of years living in Gifford Road, Islington, and says he always looks forward to a trip to the borough.

“It’s great to be coming back,” he said. “This is my hood. The area means a lot to me and I always try to pass through when I am in London.

“I was there during the riots. We were watching Tree of Life at the cinema in the N1 Centre, which is a pretty stressful film anyway.

“Then police came in to clear the place telling us to go home – everybody just ran out of there.

“But I love that neck of the woods. I always used to go to the King’s Head Theatre in Upper Street to watch the opera.

‘‘And I loved Tinderbox and Carluccios. There are so many great places.”

Big and Small (Gross Und Klein) is at the Barbican, Silk Street, EC2 from April 13 to 29.

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