STAFFORD Festival Shakespeare's comedy king is back in town and he would love to carry on being the fool on the hill.
Next month Eric Potts will star in his fifth – read that again – fifth annual outdoor production, As You Like It and he is loving it.
"It's nice to be back. This is a great gig up on the hill. It's so rare you get to do Shakespeare with a full cast these days, it's a real joy. It's the most perfect location, it's fantastic when the sun goes down behind the castle."
Potts must surely be one of the hardest workers in the business. Apart from acting he also writes panto – this year he is writing 11, including one he will perform in. Working with a pantomime production company he spends up to three days a week in their London office.
He has also added directing to his growing list of talents, having just finished directing a 12-week nationwide tour of See How They Run for Warwick Davis' Reduced Height Theatre Company.
"I'm always writing pantos. I'm writing eleven for this year and a script for Snow White on Ice for the Russian All Stars. It's a full-time job. We have a couple of weeks off at the beginning of January then start the process of casting and budgeting in February then I start writing.
He is also writing and directing a new show for piano comedian Kevin Hawkins followed by a two-hander comedy play for him which will play in London, Dubai and South Africa.
"I would rather be busy. Writing allowed me to stay at home when my daughters were little."
Meanwhile the SFS will be performed in Ludlow for the first time this year, giving an added jangle to the cast's nerves.
Rehearsals are more than halfway through and Potts will bring his comedy genius to the role of Touchstone.
"He is the fool, the comic character. He gets dragged into adventure by his two bosses. It's a great part."
Having appeared in SFS in 2009, 2010, 2011 and last year, when he played Bottom in Midsummer Night's Dream, he is happy to be back in harness.
"If I can come back I will, if people want me to. I absolutely love it, I love coming to the town and spending time in the town during rehearsals. And the show itself is great. I'm chuffed to be part of something that really gives the town a bit of kudos artistically. That's what (producer) Derrick and the festival have achieved. There's real respect in the industry."
As You Like It opens at Stafford Castle on Sunday, June 29 until Saturday, July 12. For times and tickets see www.staffordgatehousetheatre.co.uk or call 01785 254653.