The Rape of Lucrece

Tammy Moore talks with actor Gerard Logan about Doctor Who and the Rape of Lucrece

Residents of Lisburn beware. The Tocalfane, spherical cyborgs and enemy of Doctor Who, are invading. Well, the actor who played one of them is.

'I still get so much fan mail for that!' chuckles Gerard Logan, who voiced one of The Master's murderous servants in the 2007 Dr Who finale. 'Doctor Who is like Star Wars in some ways. It almost has a religious significance.'

Although a fan of the show (his Doctor was Patrick Troughton), Logan didn't get to meet any of the new Doctor Who cast. Instead he was locked away in a sound booth and sworn to secrecy.

The colourful, high camp antics of the Doctor seem a long way from Logan's current role in The Rape of Lucrece, one of Shakespeare's most harrowing plays, showing at the Island Arts Centre.

Set in Ancient Rome it is a dramatisation of the legendary rape of a respectable and 'chaste' matron by the Roman king, an act that set in motion the end of the Roman monarchy.

Logan has taken on the challenge of playing both raped and rapist, but says that the quality of Shakespeare's work makes it an easier task.

'I'm just a channel for his words.' Logan's voice is deep and rich, each word perfectly enunciated. His biography says he can do a 'soft Galway accent', courtesy of his Irish parents, but it's not audible in his voice today. 'With Shakespeare you don't need to do anything else beyond the words that Shakespeare has given you.'

His love for Shakespeare, the plays, the words, the cadences, is obvious but The Rape of Lucrece is still something special. When I call it a play he corrects me. It's a narrative poem, written by Shakespeare during the time the theatres were closed due to the Black Death, and Logan describes finding the play as 'a gift'.

Until then he'd never considered a one man show for himself. As an actor and an audience member he loved big casts.

'Acting was about relating to other people. So, I never believed you could effect the audience if it was just on the stage. What was going to move them was seeing you interact with other characters.'

Seeing Kenneth Branagh in The Madness and his friend Richard Llewellyn's one man plays about Sherlock Holmes convinced him that it was a powerful and valid genre. It still wasn't for him though.

Then he read The Rape of Lucrece. 'The poem just wouldn't go away. It was the most brilliant bit of Shakespeare I've ever read and I felt compelled to do it.'

Over three weeks, with the help of Gareth Armstrong, director of the acclaimed Shylock, Logan prepared The Rape of Lucrece for its premiere in Edinburgh. He calls Armstrong 'the Boss'. 'I knew Gareth was the maestro ... he raised the play to an entirely new level.'

The Rape of Lucrece was a hit at the Edinburgh Festival success and has been touring venues across the UK.

'I don't want it to be the only thing I do,' he admits, before his voice fills with passion. 'But I want to be performing The Rape of Lucrece until the day I die.'

The Rape of Lucrece is at the Island Arts Centre on Jan 29 and in the Grand Opera House in Belfast on April 29.