Mina Anwar celebrating northernness in Spring and Port Wine at Octagon

The Accrington-born actress is part of the cast at Bolton’s Octagon Theatre staging a revival of arguably one of the most famous northern works of them all.

Set in Sixties’ Bolton, the Crompton family are dominated by father Rafe – played by Les Dennis – a straight-talking, uncompromising character who rules with a rod of iron.

His wife’s role is to manage the home and the housekeeping money. As the four children try to asset their independence, the family dynamic is thrown into turmoil.

The Bolton News: Charlie Ryan (Harold), Les Dennis (Rafe) and Mina Anwar (Daisy) in Spring and Port Wine, Bolton Octagon (Picture: Pamela Raith)

“I don’t play women like this necessarily,” said Mina, who was previously in the Octagon’s production of Shirley Valentine which was staged at Bolton Library while the theatre underwent a multi-million pound renovation.

“Having said that the narrative is mine. I’m northern born and bred and this play belongs to anyone who considers this area theirs.

“We all know women like her but I think what is good is that it’s never been played with someone with an Asian background before. That doesn’t matter, I’m as much northern as I am Asian and it’s all about playing the human condition. The voice that comes from all the characters in this play is innate.”

Mina was approached to play Daisy by Lotte Wakeham, the Octagon’s artistic director who is in charge of this production.

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“It’s a huge privilege when a director sends an actor something,” said Mina, “when a director sees something in you for a specific role.”

Spring and Sport Wine sees Mina returning to the stage after a three month break. Prior to that she was in the acclaimed Life of Pi in London’s West End, having been part of the original workshops for the production which then premiered in Sheffield before heading in to London.

“I did 11 months in the West End and I think I did 304 shows in that time,” she said. “It was very important what I did next.

“Life of Pi was a very big, very physical, very emotional show and the first thing I wanted to to do was have a break. I’m not one of those people who can ‘phone in’ a performance and I needed time to just decompress as I didn’t want to take all that emotion into whatever I did next. Then Lotte got in touch about this.”

A director in her own right as well as an actor, Mina has enjoyed the whole process in bringing Spring and Port Wine to the stage although she visibly flinches when I suggest it is a ‘sacred text’ as far as Bolton is concerned.

“I only look at the characters in a play not the history of it,” she said. “If you did that no-one would play Lady Macbeth because Judi Dench has already done her. It’s pointless.

“I’ve never seen the play, only the film and although that’s beautifully observed it’s very different from the play.

The Bolton News: Spring and Port Wine, Bolton Octagon (Picture: Pamela Raith)

“The more you delve into the play, the more you find. It’s not about stereotypes, it’s not about northerners or the Sixties. it’s about human beings trying to cope with stuff.

“It could literally be written now about lots of different communities where young people are trying to escape from their conditioning and trying to have their freedom.

“It’s also about people trying not to live beyond their means and to save face. In Daisy we have a woman who responds to things rather than reacts until a certain point. It’s very complex. The writing is marvellous; it’s like a puzzle – and it’s also very funny. I’d describe it as a proper sitcom rather than a soap.”

Spring and Port Wine, Octagon Theatre, Bolton, until Saturday, March 4. Details from www.octagonbolton.co.uk

The Bolton News | Theatre