Brian Roche, our only Irish performer, has been playing Manuel since 2012 after meeting Alison Pollard-Mansergh at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010. Since then he’s toured in the Netherlands, Australia, performed in London and of course Ireland. Find out a bit more about him here…
Q1: What’s your favourite part so far of working with Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, or your favourite Faulty moment?
My favourite part of working with Faulty is definitely the travelling around and the ability to meet so many people along the way. It’s been nearly three years since I met Ali [artistic director and show originator] and was cast in the show, and I have met so many wonderful people since then that I never would have met had I not been working here, be they cast members, staff at venues or audience members. There have been plenty of Faulty moments that I could call favourites, so it’s really hard to pick just one. Definitely getting out there performing at my first Faulty show ever in Utrecht is up there with my favourites.
Q2: Describe yourself in three words?
A Creative Memory-Seeker
Q3: What’s your best (or worst) corpsing story?
There’s two that I can think of off the top of my head. The first one was in Strangford, a lovely spot on the East coast of Northern Ireland. I was touring with Paul and Karina at the time. The meal was delicious for the punters, with a heap of beef, spuds, vegetables and gravy and everyone loved it except one lady. She called Peter (the manager), Manuel and Basil over separately with just a constant three-worded complaint in her real Northern accent – “Sprouts are Hard”. On her fifth or sixth time of saying the same thing, Paul and myself had to go into the kitchen to laugh it off. We still talk about it to this day – Sprouts are Hard!
The second one was maybe a ‘had to be there’ moment. It was in the Vue Grand Hotel in Queenscliff, Australia in December last year. Myself, Karen and Ron were on our third night there and they had all been brilliant. It’s Manuel’s job to pick the table Basil and Manuel hide under at the end of the show and usually I have it sussed out pretty early. But on this night I didn’t, and I picked the absolute worst table for us to try and get under. It was small, cramped and we both were never going to be able to fit under there and had knees and feet of the people on the table digging into us straight away. As soon as we got under to wait for Karen to come out and discover us, I knew we were in trouble. Ron just looked at me with a big smile on his face and muttered ‘Oooh great job Manuel’. The way he said it still makes me laugh now.
Q4: What similarities and differences are there between yourself and the character you play?
We are both quite introverted with an exterior of extroversion. We both like to make other people happy and try our best but get it wrong sometimes. Also quite a few people usually can’t understand my Irish accent, especially in foreign countries like Holland, England and Australia. Or if they do, they repeat it just the way I’ve said it to mock it or copy it. Basil does that to Manuel quite a bit in the show. The differences are many! Age, and his appreciation of umbrellas to name but two.
Q5: If you were an animal, what animal would you be, and why?
I have always wanted to be a stag. I have a little brother at home, (anyone who has ever called my answering machine knows that), and we always used to pretend to be animals. I used always to choose the stag and pretend to be all graceful and proud. In reality I would most likely be some form of tenacious, small dog or bird that annoyed people with persistence.
Q6: Who’s your favourite cast member to share a dressing room with and why?
This is such a tough question to answer. Ali gave me this job and taught me so much about the show and acting in general when I started in Holland that I am very thankful for that. Myself and Paulie O’Neill have worked together so much that we know and trust each other onstage beyond anything. Donna is just amazing for encouragement and warmth and constant professionalism/advice even when we aren’t working together. Jack and myself would read Pinter and Beckett aloud at 3pm, bake bread and then talk a heap of manly rugby straight after. Karina knits me stuff and Suze sent me a tiger onesie that I still wear to bed. Rob is a wealth of knowledge and I also loved touring with Karen and Ron as they adopted me into the Aussie lifestyle, introduced me to awesome steak sandwiches and played me the most Aussie old rock on the radio any time we drove to and from venues. They also made me pose next to a dead Kangaroo at the side of the freeway. ROADKILL Yahoo!!! If I had to pick one person though, it would probably be Jordan Edmeades. He was in my first Faulty dressing room in the Netherlands and helped me out so much in finding the character when I was really struggling with it at the start. He put so much extra effort into trying to help me that he didn’t have to with no hesitation or complaining on top of his own heavy load that at the end of the tour, 12 or 13 weeks on, I knew I had found a friend whom I respected completely and was privileged to share a dressing room with.
Q7: If your character had a dating profile, what do you think it would say?
Ridiculously small Spanish gent seeks lady to cuddle up with by the fuego and tell him he has done a good honest day’s work.
Q8: What was your last tweet or Facebook status?
Tweet: The dot on the top of the letters “i” and “j” is called a tittle – the cross on top of a “t” is called a tattle. Facebook was a photograph of my home city of Limerick in Ireland.
Q9: What don’t you leave home without?
My iPod, a photo of my brother and sister, and most of the time a decent paperback book. Oh I have been known to carry a little Tiger teddy bear around too!
Q10: Do you have any hidden talents?
I love sports and played every sport I could growing up, hence my wonky boxing nose which was broken many times. I can backflip and walk on my hands, I keep that one pretty hidden. I also love springboard and platform diving, and dancing…that’s about it really.