As Endeavour commences its sixth season on ITV this week, one of its stars, Sean Rigby, has entered the rehearsal room for a timely revival of James Phillips’ award-winning The Rubenstein Kiss. We caught up with him about swapping DS Jim Strange for the brother of an alleged Soviet spy. Time to get booking!
The first London production since its 2005 premiere, The Rubenstein Kiss will have a limited season at Southwark Playhouse from 14 March to 13 April 2019, with a press night on 18 March.
1953. In the midst of the Cold War and with McCarthyism at its height, the world watched as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sent to the electric chair for allegedly passing US atomic secrets to the Russians. They protested their innocence to the last.
James Phillips‘ multi award-winning play The Rubenstein Kiss is inspired by this haunting true story and is the study of conspiracy, betrayal and the interrogation of guilt. The semi-fictionalised Rubensteins are a deeply devoted Jewish couple whose Communist idealism leads to their word being torn apart by suspicion and treachery, which then echoes through the generations.
Talking to… Sean Rigby
Sean Rigby plays David Girshfedl in The Rubenstein Kiss alongside Ruby Bentall and Henry Proffit as her Esther and Jakob Rubenstein, with Stephen Billington, Dario Coates, Katie Eldred and Eva-Jane Willis. Joe Harmston directs for Devil You Know Theatre.
On television, Rigby has starred as DS Jim Strange in ITV’s Endeavour, which has just started its sixth series, and is also known for his role as Lord Monteagle in the BBC drama Gunpowder. His theatre credits include Pomona (National Theatre, Orange Tree), Table Talk, and Still Life And Red Peppers (Folie a Deux Productions).
How significant has Endeavour been for your career to date?
It’s been hugely significant. It has enabled me to observe and learn from some of the best actors in the business, watch them going about their work on a regular basis. The value of that can’t be overstated. The camaraderie on set that has developed over the years is particularly enjoyable.
How much did you know about The Rubenstein Kiss before accepting your role?
That’d be roughly nothing. As soon as my agent told me about this production, I set about reading the play. I thoroughly enjoyed it and immediately wanted to be a part of it. It was fascinating to learn about the Rosenbergs (upon whom the Rubensteins are based).
Tell us about your character in The Rubenstein Kiss.
I play David Girshfeld, the brother/brother-in-law of Esther and Jakob Rubenstein. He’s based on David Greenglass, Ethel Rosenberg’s brother. He’s a man we see at various stages of his life throughout the play, some much happier than others. The decisions he makes during the story echo across the decades.
What research have you done in preparation?
There’s a vast amount of detailed information out there about the Rosenberg case. Not just the case but the people involved have spawned numerous books. The Brother by Sam Roberts is a book solely about David Greenglass and has been incredibly illuminating. As a cast, we’re spoiled in terms of books, documentaries and podcasts.
How are rehearsals going so far?
It’s early days, we just started this week, but things have been going swimmingly. It’s a convivial but hard-working atmosphere, which is ideal.
Do you have a favourite line from the play?
“One plane, one bomb, one city”
Why should audiences see The Rubenstein Kiss?
Because it’s a great play, with a great team working on it in a great theatre. What more could you ask for?
The Rubenstein Kiss runs 14 March to 13 April 2019 at Southwark Playhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6BD. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, with Tuesday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £22 (concessions £18). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!!