At first glance, actress Meg Lloyd looks nothing like Hollywood film star Katharine Hepburn.
For a start, she’s only 5ft 3ins and Hepburn was over 6ft tall.
And in the play Tea At Five, 26-year-old Meg ages 50 years to play the elderly star.
Yet somehow it works, and Meg becomes Hepburn while she’s on stage.
Tea At Five is a one-woman play by Matthew Lombardo which debuted in America in 2002 with Star Trek actress Kate Mulgrew.
Midland director Chris Lee saw it and decided to put it on last year starring Meg.
It was first performed in the UK at the Stratford-upon-Avon Fringe, where Meg took home the Best Actress award. It was then staged at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham, which has revived Tea At Five this summer.
It will be previewed there at the end of this month before transferring to the Edinburgh Festival, the first time the Old Joint Stock – the 100-seat theatre above the Temple Row West pub, which opened in 2006 – has ventured north of the border.
Meg, from Hampton Magna, near Warwick, explains: “It was 90 minutes last year but we’ve cut it down to 50 for Edinburgh, mainly by taking out the interval.
“That means there is no time for a costume or make-up change, so I have to age just by using my voice and physicality. The first half is set when Katharine is 36 and the second when she is 76, looking back on her life, so it does span quite some time.
“The hardest challenge for me is becoming Katharine when I look nothing like her. I have, however, tried to nail her distinctive voice. I’ve done a lot of research, watching her films and interviews and reading her books. My favourite of her films is Bringing Up Baby. Her comic timing was phenomenal.
“She said she wasn’t interested in being an actress, she just wanted to be famous and a star, but the funny thing is she was so brilliant at acting.
“I hope I have managed to capture the essence of her and some of her wit and spirit.
“I think she was incredible, like a fireball. She was so quick-witted and didn’t suffer fools. The play is full of her sarcasm and quips.
“She was a go-getter and I really admire her strength.
“The play also gives us an insight into her vulnerability and more tender side. She talks about the death of her beloved older brother Tom, who hanged himself at 15. She had to cut him down. She never got over that, especially as her family refused to talk about it or believe that he’d meant to kill himself.
“She also changes completely when she talks about Spencer Tracey, the love of her life.
“The play starts with her waiting by the phone to hear whether she has got the role of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With The Wind. She was convinced that the part was hers and couldn’t believe it when Vivien Leigh took it from her.
“It’s called Tea At Five because her father always insisted that all the Hepburns get together every day at five to sit down and have tea.”
Hepburn, who died in 2003 aged 96, still holds the record for the most Best Actress Oscars at four. Meg has also trained as a hypnotherapist and is taking a Master’s degree in psychotherapy and counselling. “Starring in a one-woman show can be intimidating.
“There is more pressure – I didn’t quite realise how much there was to learn. And when there are a few of you on stage, you get a feeling of support.
“But at the same time I know I’m in control and I don’t have to worry about anyone else.”
* Tea At Five plays the Old Joint Stock Theatre for four performances on July 26-27 before playing at Surgeons Hall in Edinburgh. For tickets, ring 0121 200 0946 or go to www.teaatfive.co.uk .
Midland acts starring at the Edinburgh Festival
Stewart Lee, Much A-Stew About Nothing, Aug 3-25, The Stand Comedy Club
The Solihull comedian bans critics, saying the show is merely ‘work in progress’. You still have to pay a tenner for it though.
Joe Lycett, If Joe Lycett Then You Should’ve Put a Ring on It, July 31-Aug 25, Pleasance Courtyard
Last year’s Best Newcomer nominee from Hall Green, Birmingham, hones his charming style with a new show.
Tom Stade, The Essential Tom Stade, Aug 13-25, The Assembly Rooms
The Canadian who moved to Bilston offers “something old, something new, nothing borrowed, very blue”.
The Lovely Men, Aug 3-17, Jekyll and Hyde.
Four Midlands men – Dan Smith from Walsall, Andy Richardson, Brummie James Cook and Jonathan Lee – perform ‘vintage silliness’ in their greatest hits show.
James Cook also goes it alone at the Jekyll and Hyde in the free show Adventures On Air, Aug 18-25, talking about turning on Nuneaton’s Christmas lights.
Aaron Twitchen’s Princess Guide to Dating, Aug 1-24, Laughing Horse
An uplifting look on how to find the man of your dreams and release your inner princess power. It’s the second solo stand-up show from Birmingham-based Aaron.
Alistair McGowan: Damn Labels!, Aug 19-21, Gilded Ballroom
Can’t get in to Sarah Millican, Kevin Bridges, Andy Parsons, John Bishop, Micky Flanagan and Jack Dee? Don’t worry, Evesham impressionist McGowan does them all.
David Morgan, Pretty, July 31-Aug 25. Underbelly Bristo Square
Solihull-born David wishes he was pretty but must face up to how he looks.
The Birmingham Footnotes Disagree, The Birmingham Footnotes. Aug 2-11, The Caves
Back for a second year, the Birmingham Footnotes Comedy Society from Birmingham University present their daft sketches.
Gary Delaney: This Time It’s not Personal, July 31-Aug 20, Pleasance Courtyard
The Dorridge-born king of the one-liners has just turned 40, but he’s not bothered. Honest.
Maureen Younger, The Outsider, Aug 2-8, 19-25, Beehive Inn.
The resident MC for the monthly Laughing Cows comedy night in Birmingham puts on a free show.
Paul Savage: Cheerful Shambles, Dragonfly, Aug 3-24
Unbelievably embarrassing true stories, skillfully told. See feature.
Foghorn Improv: Bespoke Comedy for the Discerning Family, Aug 2-11, The Free Sisters
The Birmingham middle-aged improv group, based at the Old Joint Stock Theatre, say: “People in their forties are funnier and friendly. Fact.”
Stella Graham: A Pint of Stella. Aug 1-25, Jekyll & Hyde
She bills herself as “the funniest half-Sri Lankan tomboy from Coventry”, now based in New Zealand.
Beyond Breaking Glass, Aug 19-26, Pleasance Courtyard
Coventry’s Hazel O’Connor takes us on an emotional journey from her childhood, through her 80s fame in Breaking Glass, to the present day through words and music.
Johnnie Walker’s Guest Night, Aug 1-25, New Town Theatre
The Solihull broadcaster has daily interviews with celebrity guests.
Stuart Maconie: The People’s Songs, Aug 16, The Assembly Rooms.
The Birmingham-based DJ talks about his new book and radio series, a social history of modern Britain told through pop singles.
Tom Watson: Read All About It?, Aug 5, The Assembly Rooms
The MP for West Bromwich East talks about taking on the Murdochs and ‘corrupt media’.
Beyond Therapy, Birmingham Medics’ Performing Arts Society, Aug 2-10, The Space on the Mile
Birmingham University medical students present a farce about a pair of mentally deranged psychotherapists who wreak havoc on their patients.
The Cardinals, Stan’s Cafe Theatre, Aug 19-23, Greyfriars Kirk
Three cardinals in a puppet theatre tell their Biblical history of the world. Wordless, funny and moving performance from the company based at AE Harris in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Bablake Theatre Company, Aug 19-24, Chambers St
Oscar Wilde’s tale of passion and obsession is retold by pupils of the Coventry school.
Tea At Five, Old Joint Stock Theatre Company, Aug 2-24, Surgeons Hall
Vinegar Tom, Warwick University Drama Society, July 31-Aug 13, C Nova
The students present a play set in 17th century England where women are accused of witchcraft. Expect punk, funk, feminism and Brecht.
Edinburgh preview shows staged in the Midlands
Matt Forde, Hare and Hounds, July 24.
As seen on Have I Got News For You, his show The Political Party is an hour of satirical stand-up from the former Labour Party advisor.
The Lovely Men, July 24, Hare and Hounds.
Supporting Matt Forde with their Edinburgh preview are Dan Smith, Andy Richardson, James Cook and Jonathan Lee. Also playing Kenilworth Rugby Club on July 18 and Rose Villa Tavern, Birmingham Jewellery Quarter on July 21.
Maureen Younger performs at Birmingham Memorial Hall, Station Road, Kings Heath, July 24.
Aaron Twitchen’s Princess Guide to To Dating is free every Tuesday in July at the Old Joint Stock Theatre.
Foghorn Improv perform on the last Thursday of each month at the Old Joint Stock so will be there on July 25.