Close-up: Oliver Chris

The comedy actor is fairly certain his West End debut is a play... isn't it?
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The Independent Culture

Oliver Chris cut his teeth on some of the best-loved British television comedies of the decade, including Green Wing, The IT Crowd, Nathan Barley and The Office, but for now, the 30-year-old is taking a break from the small screen.

"I've been trying to do more theatre after eight years of almost solid TV," he says. "When I was a kid, I wanted to be on the stage, like the precocious little idiot that I was. It's not easy to break into, but you just chip away here and there."

Chris is also quietly chipping away at a degree in politics, philosophy and history – not that he's thinking of giving up acting. "I've always had regular work, but even then you have a lot of time on your hands and there's only so much Richard & Judy you can watch."

Tomorrow – fresh from a stint in Peter Hall's production of The Portrait of a Lady – the amiable actor makes his West End debut in Lisa Kron's comedy Well, when it transfers to the Apollo in London. "The play is not really a play," ponders Chris. "Actually, it is a play, but it breaks the normal theatrical form."

You can see what he means: its main characters are the playwright herself (played by Natalie Casey), and her mother Ann, and its plot follows Kron's attempts to put on a show. "I'm playing one of the actors Lisa has asked to come and perform, but as the play goes on, it breaks down and the actors start saying they won't do what she wants them to and her mother starts playing up."

Does he have a dream role? Not exactly. "I'd love to do a season at the RSC. I just like to work. That's a bit of a bland answer, but I'm not going to sit here and say I want to play Hamlet!"

'Well' is at the Apollo Theatre, London W1, from tomorrow (0870 890 1101,