Mathew Kelly in The Habit of Art- Lowry

Ahead of the arrival of his latest play at The Lowry, we spoke to Actor and TV Presenter Matthew Kelly about the UK tour of ‘The Habit of Art’ and his career.

9 years on from its original debut at the National Theatre, Alan Bennett’s ‘The Habit of Art’ is now nearing the end of its three-month tour but not before it stops off at Salford.

The play itself is a play within a play, set during a rehearsal of ‘Caliban’s Day’- written by Benjamin Britten. The story follows a meeting between Britten and the poet W. H. Auden after Britten goes to Auden for advice. Kelly plays Auden whilst co-star David Yelland (Chariots of Fire) plays Britten. However, the two have a history of arguments between themselves with the play focusing on their relationship.

Talking about his love for the roles and the play, he said: “I play two parts in it. I’m a massive fan of Auden as he yaks on, he loves to talk. It’s a well-satisfied play as it’s so accessible. Not only about Auden but about Bennett.”

When asked about the themes of the play, Kelly said: “It’s a play about friendship. It’s also a play about biography.

“It’s very funny but it’s also very moving, as you would expect from Bennett.”

Talking about Bennett coming to see the play, he stated: “When you are doing one of his plays, he doesn’t come to see it but every press night he always sends a bottle of champagne to the company and a good luck card. On this, in York, when we opened, he sent us all individual cards saying good luck, thank you and notes on our characters. It’s so sweet.”

Being from Urmston originally and studying in Manchester, he said: “I love coming back to Manchester. The people want you to do well. Plus, I worked at Granada a lot and all the Granada people come to see me which is lovely to see them again.”

This year also marks 14 years since Kelly last presented ‘Stars In Their Eyes’, which he presented for 11 years. He said that he still gets recognized from the show with people saying the shows infamous catchphrase. However, it tends to just be people of a certain age.

“I’m very proud to be the Matthew of ‘tonight Matthew I’m going to be’. It’s wonderful.”

‘The Habit of Art’ will be at The Lowry from 12th-17th November before embarking on its final destination at the Palace Theatre, Essex.

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