TV veteran finds the leap to Shakespearean stage a tough transition

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 June, 2009, 12:00am

Bowie Lam Bo-yee has starred in more than 30 television dramas over the past 20 years, but he now faces his toughest professional challenge yet.

The 43-year-old is hitting the stage, and it's not just any play but a Cantonese adaptation of Shakespeare's Richard III. He will play the Duke of Buckingham, accomplice to the ambitious lead (stage veteran Chung King-fai) in the Hong Kong Repertory Theatre's July production at the Cultural Centre's Grand Theatre.

The troupe performed several scenes in a preview on Monday afternoon, and the accomplished actor didn't look lost in a winter of discontent.

'It is a huge challenge,' Lam confessed. 'I have never done theatre before, and now I have these six long pages of Shakespearean dialogue to remember. There are no retakes on stage, and I can't improvise if I forget the lines. I think I'll eventually have to move in with 'King Sir' [Chung's nickname] to practise my lines day and night.'

The other major challenge for Lam - better known recently as another villain in TVB's The Gem Of Life - is that jumping from television to the stage requires less, not more, subtlety. Without close-ups, Lam has to act bigger.

'On stage, the audience can't see your facial expressions as clearly, so you need to use a lot more body language to help them understand what your character is thinking, and this requires a lot of energy. We have been rehearsing for the past two and a half weeks and every time we finish, I am totally exhausted. Still, this is a lot of fun and you may see me doing more theatre in the future.'

Richard III will run from July 11 to 21. For tickets, call Urbtix.