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    Kevin Doyle stars in ‘Pressure’ at Mirvish- HindiNewsWala


    David Haig’s play “Pressure” has all the elements of a great story: World War II. British humour. The weather.

    No, that’s not a joke.

    Well, it is, but the play really is about the Second World War and, yes, the weather. It’s perhaps the greatest story never told — the one where D-Day almost didn’t happen due to competing reports from two of Gen. Eisenhower’s advisers, meteorologists James Stagg, a Scotsman, and American Col. Irving P. Krick.

    “Pressure” opened to great success in the U.K. in 2014, and now, following a lengthy postponement due to the pandemic, will finally open in Toronto at the Royal Alexandra Theatre, starring “Downton Abbey” and “Happy Valley” alum Kevin Doyle as Stagg.

    “We were all set to go with it in 2020,” Doyle said in a phone interview.

    “But then of course, things happened in the world. We just couldn’t get it over here. And now, almost three and a half years later, I’m finally beginning to dig in. I’ve learned this role on three separate occasions, and I’m just now getting up on my feet and working with the other actors, which has been a total joy. I’ve lived with this character for nearly three and a half years,” he continued.

    “I’m sort of desperate to get it onstage.”

    Doyle, a history buff, was surprised by the play’s story when he first heard it — “the friends I’ve told have been simply amazed by it,” he said — and it’s been a thrill getting to bring Stagg to life onstage.

    “It’s wild to me,” said Doyle, “that the whole of modern human history is determined by four or five days in this rather bland-looking office building on the south coast of England.”

    “And it could have gone terribly, terribly wrong. I think it will come as an enormous surprise to a lot of people when they see it,” he added.

    As a young person, Doyle never thought he’d be an actor — until he gained acceptance to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London at the age of 19.

    “It changed my life completely,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t have the academic qualifications to go to university.

    “But friends are so important at that age, aren’t they? They influence you in a crisis in quite a number of ways. They introduced me to theatre and acting …And so, as a consequence, I got into drama school … I have lifelong friends from that period. I’ve been a professional actor now for 40 years, and I’m still in contact with them — 40 years on, that connection is still there.”

    While Doyle has acted in a number of stage plays in the U.K., most of his Toronto audience is likely to recognize him as Joseph Molesley from the smash television series “Downton Abbey.” Doyle loved his time on the show — and for the most part, that comes down to the people involved.

    “It’s very rare for actors to come together as a group like that,” he said. “Over such a long period of time, we got to know each other, very, very well. And we got to see each other experience extraordinary success — we saw how it changed everybody’s lives, and so dramatically. We shared that experience together.

    “I suppose if you talk to any actors on a successful show, they’ll probably tell you the same thing … but British actors on the whole don’t often have that experience, international acclaim. It’s quite rare. You see it all the time with American productions, but British shows don’t tend to have that kind of reach,” he added.

    Getting recognized in strange spaces by fans of the show — in a jungle in Cambodia, for instance, which was the case for one of Doyle’s castmates — became a bonding experience for the “Downton” team. Doyle himself was once spotted in a French vineyard.

    “It’s disconcerting, but in a pleasant way,” he said. “You sort of forget how familiar your face is to an awful lot of people, and then you get used to it. It never fails to amaze me the reach that show had.”

    Doyle’s been to Canada a few times to promote various “Downtown” premieres and offshoots — he very much enjoyed his time with Toronto film critic Richard Crouse in 2019 — but due to a quirk in the several reschedulings of “Pressure,” this will be his first winter.

    “But I’m fully packed. I have my Thermos with me. I’m all set,” he joked.

    Weather aside, Doyle’s just excited to get “Pressure” on its feet for an audience. Following so many postponements, it’s overdue.

    “After all this time, I just want to tell you this extraordinary story.”

    “Pressure” by David Haig runs at the Royal Alexandra Theatre Jan. 24 through March 5. Tickets at mirvish.com or by phone at 1 (800) 461-3333.

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