Actor Duncan Butcher is about to play one of Manchester’s most famous icons – the late footballer George Best.
The play Best Behaviour by Lindsay Williams is one of six 15-minute pieces by top TV writers like Early Doors star James Quinn being performed at JB Shorts, a fast paced evening ideal for people who like a play, a pint and a laugh.
We caught up with Duncan to find out more about him, JB Shorts and what he thinks of the city he has just moved to.
How did you get into acting?
I grew up in Cumbria and first started acting through school, taking part in drama and musical productions, but in 2014 I was accepted as a member of the National Youth Theatre which really kicked things off. From there I auditioned for the BA Acting course at UCLan, graduated this year, and here I am now.
Tell us a bit about Best Behaviour
It follows a young George Best when he first moved to England, where he stayed with a landlady, Mrs Fullaway. In the play we encounter three different moments of their relationship, and how the development of George’s career and fame tested both of them. It’s a really beautiful relationship that starts off with two strangers becoming almost family.
Did you audition for a particular play for JB Shorts?
This is my first time actually being in JB Shorts but, yes, the casting process was fairly straightforward. I auditioned specifically for the role of George Best and luckily I managed to get the part.
Why is JB Shorts so unique?
The format of JB Shorts isn’t what a lot of people expect from the theatre. You get to see six, 15-minute plays, all written by professional TV writers, which means lots of variety. Having to flesh out and create a full story in fifteen minutes is no easy feat, but it creates some hilarious and touching moments. It always delivers an evening of fast paced, quality theatre, which appeals to a broader audience than those who usually go to the theatre, which I think is really special. It’s also great that JB mixes up-and-coming actors and directors with established names. It’s a great opportunity for a young actor like me to be a part of it.
Why do you think George Best is still such an icon in Manchester?
George Best not only dominated the football pitch. Off the pitch he was seen and treated like a rock star. He’s a personality that you don’t really see any more in football. He just oozed charisma and likeability. His talents on the football pitch are obviously legendary and I think part of Manchester’s heart is its football, so he’ll always remain an icon.
What do you love about Manchester?
I’ve only recently moved to the city but it’s surprised me how quickly I settled in. It’s a city passionate about its people and culturally I think it’s brimming with possibility and opportunity for all. It’s great from an actor’s point of view to have a city outside London that has such a great theatre scene of not only professional productions but fringe too.
Where do you like to hang out here?
The Northern Quarter has so many great places to chill out and unwind. Loads of amazing independent clothing shops, vintage record stores, great coffee shops and unique bars. It’s really a place that is thriving right now.
Is there anything you would change about the place, and why?
I originally come from Cumbria, where it rains all the time. Now I’m in Manchester, I’ve realised that it does in fact rain all the time here too, so maybe I’d play God and make it a little sunnier? I love the city though, and I’m excited to explore it more and really get to know it as home – just like George Best did.
JB Shorts is at 53Two from 20 November – 1st December 2018.