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Rising Star: Dinita Gohil

Muddy meets the Birmingham actor playing Viola in RSC's new production of Twelfth Night with Adrian Edmondson and Kara Tointon.

I chatted to Dinita Gohil about playing Viola in Christopher Luscombe’s new Victorian take on Twelfth Night at the RSC in Stratford until Feb 24 2018. As you can see she has a fab taste in jumpers! This romantic Shakespeare comedy also starring Kara Tointon – Rosalie Selfridge in ITV’s Mr Selfridge – as Olivia and Adrian Edmondson, of The Young Ones and Bottom fame, as her much-abused steward Malvolio.

Twelfth Night rehearsal shot of Dinita by Manuel Harlan, RSC

Tell us a few basics…

I grew up in Hodge Hill, Birmingham, went to Sutton Coldfield Grammar for Girls and studied French and Spanish at Royal Holloway and Bedford Uni. I worked as a translator then went to Guildhall School of Music and Drama and did acting for 3 years.

Where do you live now?

Queen’s Park in London. It’s really central but has a lovely village feel, the best Sunday farmer’s market in London, a great selection of bars and restaurants and a really nice atmosphere with young professionals and families.

In what period is Twelfth Night set?

The Victorian era. Setting the play in this period works really well. Queen Victoria was in mourning for Albert – much like Olivia who is grieving the loss of her father and brother. There’s also a lot interesting things that this period raises in terms of gender and sexual politics, the rules and regulations that society placed on people. Homosexuality was illegal at this time which makes the love triangle between Cesario, Olivia and Orsino all the more dangerous.

Are you having fun playing Viola and the whole gender switcharoo thing?

It’s a dream role, she’s such a wonderful character. By assuming a male persona in the play Viola gets an insight into Orsino’s world that she wouldn’t have had as a woman; it’s both very exciting and revealing for her. Also, being a man would have allowed her more freedom to speak her mind in the way she does, she challenges those around her.

What do you like best about Viola?

Her survival instinct.

What was it like meeting Esh Alladi who plays your twin brother

I was so excited to meet him! He’s so lovely and really fun to work with. The wig department has made us both these incredible wigs which look almost androgynous. Working at the RSC the resources are so wonderful. We had experts come in to talk to us about twin-ship and Indian culture in the Victorian era.

Dinita with Esh Alladi who plays Viola’s twin Sebastian and Adrian Edmondson – Olivia’s steward Malvolio – in the rehearsal room. Photo: Manuel Harlan, RSC

Is Ade Edmondson really very funny?

He’s great. I remember Bottom on TV, my sisters used to watch The Young Ones. I love watching him in rehearsals – he’s really fun and playful!

Favourite comedies?

Catastrophe and Toast – particularly after rehearsals. I’m also a huge Ab Fab fan!

Biggest vice?

Pickled things! I love pickled chillies and gherkins – my fridge is full of different pickled things.

Favourite hangouts?

I am loving re-discovering Birmingham and the Midlands. I moved away when I was 18. Whenever I come back everything is changing – New Street Station now has a John Lewis! My sister got married in Stratford. We’ve only been here for a week but already I can tell it has lots of lovely independent cafes, shops and restaurants I’m looking forward to checking out.

Dinita and Kara Tointon – Olivia – in rehearsal for Twelfth Night. Photo: Manuel Harlan, RSC

This season you’re also appearing in the RSC’s festive family production A Christmas Carol with the amazing Phil Davis. Who do you play?

Yes, Phil Davis is so brilliant and moving as Scrooge . I play Isabel – Scrooge’s fiancee in Christmas past. This job has been great and I’m working with such a talented bunch of actors. When you spend 7 months together it’s important you all get on and there’s a real sense of family here. I loved being in the rehearsal room, especially watching and learning from people like Ade Edmondson and Phil Davis.

How did you enjoy the experience of filming The Infiltrator with Breaking Bad star Brian Cranston and Diane Kruger; and The Snowman with Michael Fassbender?

I had tiny parts, but it was really fun. I think Brian Cranston is an incredibly wonderful and hard-working actor. It was good to be around him and see him work.

You can see 31-year-old Dinita on telly in BBC 2’s one-off 90-minute  drama The Boy with the Topknot on Monday November 13. It’s based on the best-selling memoirs of  successful journalist and author Sathnam Sanghera, who grew up in Wolverhampton in the 1980s, and starring Sacha Dhawan. “I’m playing Kiran, a doctor whose Sathnam’s mum is keen to set him up on a ‘meet up’ with,” she reveals.

Twelfth Night runs at the RST, Stratford, until February 24 2018, rsc

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