James Phelps on Starring in “The Greater Game”

You’d never expect a Weasley twin to have a serious side, but that’s precisely what James Phelps (Fred Weasley) has proved. He’s starring in the World War I drama The Greater Game, which tells the true story of a group of soccer players who enlist to fight in the Great War.

Phelps plays one of many teammates in this historical play that covers the less popular of the two World Wars. The actor hopes they’ll do it justice while still telling an entertaining story:

The first thing we’re doing is remembering. There’s nothing political in the show, whether it’s good, bad, or in between. These are the facts. This is what happened. It’s the first piece of work I’ve done where my mates down at the pub were like, ‘Oh, I’ll watch that.’ Because as soon as I’m in a play involving football and history and war, they’re [interested].

His casting was announced recently, and the play opens next week. That’s not a mistake – Phelps says that this rehearsal process has been an intense two-week period, and he’s enjoyed every minute:

I love it, to be honest. When you film, normally, you just rehearse the morning of the shoo, and then you shoot whatever you’ve rehearsed that morning. Whereas this, it’s been quite an intense rehearsal period. We’re only rehearsing for two weeks. We all came into rehearsal space off book anyway, so we rehearsed the whole play the first week and then this week we’re just doing the technical stuff. But what’s great is, you can try to achieve the ultimate performance every night.

This harrowing drama will chronicle the journeys of lifelong friends Richard McFadden (Phelps) and William Jonas (Stephen Bush), two of the many men who left their team, Clapton Orient, to enlist and fight in the Battle of the Somme. Their relationship is at the heart of this play, which reviewers are calling emotional and moving.

The Greater Game opens at the Waterloo East Theatre on October 30. Tickets are available now until November 25, so be sure to catch James Phelps as Richard MacFadden before it’s too late!