Clive Mantle is a very familiar face from stage and screen, best known for his regular roles in Robin of Sherwood, Casualty, Holby City and The Vicar Of Dibley. He is currently starring as down-on-his-luck lawyer Frank Galvin in the courtroom thriller THE VERDICT, which will be here from 2 - 6 May. We caught up with Clive for a quick chat.
Tell us about The Verdict.
It's a beautifully constructed piece and it picks out the best bits of both the novel (by Barry Reed), which is a very good read in itself, and of course the wonderful film starring Paul Newman. The first half follows Frank Galvin in his descent to the lowest point he has ever been – he's an alcoholic, his business is falling to bits, and he's chasing ambulances as they say in the legal profession. At one stage he had a very promising legal career, but through alcohol and a life of debauchery he's got himself into a bit of a pickle, and we open the play with him literally collapsed on the floor of his office. And from thereon the show charts his rise, as he starts fighting on behalf of someone who really needs his help. He represents a woman who is in a persistent vegetative state owing to a mistake made in a hospital operation. The case recalls in his mind all the things he went into the legal profession to do, which was to fight for the underdog and to speak for those who had no opportunity to speak for themselves. He's up against the hospital, the Church and the best lawyers in the western hemisphere, and it's up to the audience to find out whether he ends up triumphant at the end.
Is he a likeable character?
He's a likeable rogue I would say. You have to have some sympathy with him in the fact that his principles in terms of the legal profession are absolutely scrupulous, although he has found himself in places where he is representing the shoddy end of the industry. When push comes to shove, his true colours are seen.
Frank Galvin was famously played by Paul Newman in the Oscar-nominated film. Does his performance influence you?
His performance is on film, it's magnetic, and it's magnificent. It was rightly nominated for an Oscar and the film is rightly held up as one of the great courtroom films of all time. So there's Paul Newman who' has played the part, and now there's me! So at least I'll be second best at playing the part, and to be in the top two at anything in the world is pretty good!
What attracted you to this role?
It's an incredibly diverse role for me to take. I love American drama, I love American characters and I've done a lot of American plays and played a lot of American parts. There's something about the writing which is immediate. Americans don't mess about – they tell it how it is, and as a result it hits the audience in the solar plexus as they are sitting there in the theatre.