Looking for their ‘pain point’ keeps him on his toes
If actor Cyrus Lane had his way, the question “How does this person think?” would be embroidered on his underwear.
Surely the 36-year-old jests, but it’s what he’s learned from working with director Alan Dilworth on the Young People’s Theatre’s
play, Minotaur, which opened March 27.
Lane, who lives in the Blythwood Road and Mt. Pleasant Road area, plays six roles in the play, and during a break from rehearsals he shared how Dilworth has influenced his acting.
Minotaur is a Classics-infused tale of a boy, Freddie, who comes back to save his father, King Aegeus, in an unnamed country.
Lane plays a handful of the antagonists, including the Ogre — an addled man who caught a glimpse of the labyrinth as a toddler and was never the same — and the Minotaur himself.
“I try to delineate very clear thought processes for the different people — different wants — rather than going, ‘Well for this guy I’m doing that voice’,” he says of his six roles. “It’s kind of Acting 101: what do they want, how much do they want it, what’s at stake if they don’t get it, what do they stand to lose, what do they stand to gain?
“What is their pain point, which is always a good one.”
As for playing two traditionally monstrous roles, Lane admits he has taken his director’s vision to heart and played down the physicality and voice acting.
“It’s funny, I started with a lot of that, and Alan, in his wisdom, pared it away and really made it about how the character’s thoughts worked,” he says. “[Dilworth] said do less with the voice and the body and make his crazy thinking clear, and everything else will follow.
“The instinct is to put on a mask, or to change something physically when you have to do a lot of parts to differentiate them, which is partly actor ego going ‘I want them to be as different as possible’.”
With six roles comes a lot of costume play, and designer Robin Fisher has been “inventive” in how the audience will notice the difference between characters, Lane says.
“I think her and Alan have found a spectacular way of making these characters bold and clear silhouettes without a lot of fussy facial stuff like makeup,” he says. “You’re really working inside-out, which is how I work generally.
“When you’re playing all these small parts, you’re playing them with the same integrity as you would with one huge role in a big play.”
Minotaur runs until April 13, and during that time Lane will have another appearance: in an episode of the TV series Murdoch Mysteries.
Lane plays a “real pretentious fop”, in the Michael McGowan-directed season finale. McGowan is widely known for his work on One Week.
“I haven’t done a lot of film or TV, so I was really happy doing it, and those guys — Yannick [Bisson] the lead and Thomas [Craig] who plays Brackenreid — they were so welcoming, and the set was so easy-going,” Lane says, with a boyish grin. “It was just a lovely experience.”
As for what happens at the end, Lane’s hush-hush, though he admits it is “very shocking.”
“Even I was shocked,” he says.