Corrie killer takes to Brighton stage

Brian Butler March 21, 2024

Brighton writer, artist and TV presenter Andrew Kay – best known for his electrifying queer monodrama Morning Glory –  has now called on legendary Coronation Street serial killer Brian Capron (aka Richard Hillman) to star in his latest play Punchline, which will be at Kemptown’s Lantern Theatre from 12-14 April.

Morning Glory starred two prominent Brighton performers – Jason Sutton and Allan Cardew – and Brian is no exception, being a Brighton resident for many years.

Although it’s 20 years since Brian’s soap opera trail of murderous acts, he’s still remembered and recognised and he told me that his TV apperance led to a huge boost in his acting career. The third creative in the team is TV and film director and actor Rupert Charmak, whose short superhero film I Am Super was recently shot in Brighton.

Punchline’s plot concerns an older club entertainer/comedian who bemoans how the comedy scene has changed – a lot for the worse- but beneath this layer of dark humour there lies a disturbing secret in his private life. No spoilers except to say that the play deals with domestic abuse but not in the way you might expect it to.

The play was specifically written for Brian, who saw Morning Glory and asked if Andrew had anything he could perform. The script has evolved over the last year or so and is still changing in rehearsal. Brian told me: “it’s daunting doing a one-man show, but I’ve woven some personal bits from my own life into the lines- some of it is very close to me and my career.”

And what a career – he was a good-natured schoolmaster in Grange Hill and also in Where The Heart Is, but Corrie fame led to many big opportunities, including work at the National Theatre and Guys and Dolls in the West End. In his days in Corrie audiences topped 20 million compared with today’s figure of around six million. His storyline secured Corrie’s first BAFTA award. And Brian didn’t entirely shed his villainous nature, playing baddies regularly in panto.

Brian worked with director Rupert on I Am Super and describes him as  “an actor’s director”. Rupert trod the boards at London’s Globe Theatre and has worked on TV detective series Grace which is mostly filmed in Brighton. He told me: “theatre is still what I love best.”

Tickets for Punchline HERE and look out for my review of the show only in Scene magazine