GLOBE columnist Peter Grant talks to Birkenhead-born actor Michael Hugo about his forthcoming Playhouse run and a very pesky prop ...

"I can remember the laughter – it stays with you always," says actor Michael Hugo.

"I was born in Birkenhead and my dad was in the Forces so we moved around a lot. I was back there again in Wirral when I was ten." 

He says he will always recall the people he grew up with.

"I do have such fond memories of their laughter and the banter. That ability to laugh at yourself. We all need humour in our lives and I realised that at school. It has stayed with me." 

Michael was at the Liverpool Playhouse last Autumn in the acclaimed Around the World in Eighty Days.

He played enigmatic Passpartout in the New Vic's tour where the company got their money's worth out of the versatile team of actors.

The Wirral Globe gave it five stars.

He said: "I enjoyed that tour. Each and every night I would talk to one person in the audience and ask them what they did for a living and make up a song on the spot about them.

"The part called for me to busk - so that’s what I did - became a busker in the theatre." 

Apart from improvisation, he has many other skills up his sleeves and says he wants to learn more with each new from acting the clown in panto to flying in Peter Pan.

In his latest part - the biting political comedy/farce They Won't Pay? We Don't pay! he plays a constable, a sergeant, an undertaker and someone called ‘Pops’ and, he says proudly, a few others, too.

He has a frenetic nine costume changes to do in a fast-paced, two-hour satire about civil disobedience.

It is the story of Anthea - unemployed and at the end of her tether. She gets mixed up in a riot at her local supermarket.

Seizing the moment she takes the opportunity to stock her empty cupboards and those of her friend.

The problem is what do they tell their respective husbands?

He says: "It's about the poorest people in society and the in-fighting in the House of Commons.

"You don't need to be a student of politics to enjoy it." 

There is also one hair-raising problem to cope with every night. A moody moustache prop that will either fall off or not come off.

Michael, who studied at Manchester’s Arden School of Theatre, laughs and says audiences seem to like it and that he will eventually get the hang of it.

He says Italian playwright Dario Fo's work - written in 1974 - is very relevant with Brexit, foodbanks, universal credit dominating the news and it is transposed to the Northern England of today.

"If you are sick and tired of Brexit this is for you. This is a timely play that says to the audience 'you really do count in all of this.'" 

Michael, who lives in West Yorkshire, is thrilled to be working with Northern Broadsides under the leadership of fellow Wirralonian actor and artistic director Conrad Nelson.

Michael was working with Conrad’s award-winning playwright wife Debbie McAndrew in Pinnochio when she convinced him to join her current adaptation which he says is 'fast and funny, sharp and relevant.' 

After Dario Fo, there is another run in his beloved 39 Steps where he, again, plays many roles and no doubt puts on many moustaches.

He will also be in a two-handed version of Wind in The Willows for 3-5 year olds.

Michael, who has a young daughter, loves Jackanory and storytelling.

He says on his return to Liverpool he will get a ferry to Birkenhead and check out ever-changing New Brighton.

Happily, his dad is coming to see his son on stage at the Playhouse.

So is there any one part he would like to play?

Quick as a costume change, he says The Hunchback of Notre Dame from that other famous Hugo.

Michael laughs: "He's no relation, but I quite like Victor Hugo's Quasimodo.

"Or I could play his hump." 

They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! is at Liverpool Playhouse from October 30 to November 2.

Tickets from the box office on 0151 709 4776