IT’S a far cry from Albert Square to living in a convent alongside a robot nun but for Suzette Llewellyn, it’s all part of a day’s work.

Suzette is appearing at Manchester's Royal Exchange Theatre in the world premiere of Electric Rosary which opened last night.

The winner of the Bruntwood Prize judges’ award for new writing, Tim Foley’s play takes us behind the crumbling walls the Sisters of St Grace Convent where numbers ate dwindling, divine inspiration is at an all-time low and a council-funded robot-nun has just been invited to join the convent.

“I am not a robot, I’m an old school nun,” laughed Suzette who spent two years on to TV soap Eastenders as Sheree Trueman. “This is really my first foray into sci-fi - it’s fascinating.

“When I first read through it, I just thought it was cleverly written and asked questions that are really interesting about faith and technology and love and family.

“I could see it being part of a bigger conversation about technology and our part in and what’s natural and what isn’t and thought it was something I’d love to be part of.


Electric Rosary gets its world premiere at the Royal Exchange

Electric Rosary gets its world premiere at the Royal Exchange


Set in the not too distant future, Suzette is confident that Electric Rosary will make an impact on the audience.

“It will really get the audience talking about it afterwards,” she said. “It’s a play with a lot of heart in it. It is very funny but there may also be a few tears shed too.

“I like the fact that it raises some thought-provoking questions which definitely make you think. Who isn’t already struggling with technology even it it’s just spending too much time on our phones? Even when you go to the supermarket you deal with a machine and it may even speak to you. It’s important we hold on to that human interaction - that is what we are about. Humans need community, we need each other.”

In rehearsal, the cast has been working with writer Tim Foley.

“It’s been good to have him there to explain things,” said Suzette. “With a new work there is always a little tweaking, although this is an award winning play so it’s doing OK without our input. But as an actor you take what the writer gives you and from there perhaps can put your own stamp on it which might be used as a blueprint later on.”

Suzette describes her character as “a nun in crisis”.

“She wasn’t a ‘career nun’,” she said, “She came to the convent later in life. She had been married and it was after her husband’s death that she joined the convent. She’s been with the order for a number of years and was attached to it for a number of years beforehand. She’s also a practical person.”

This is the first time that Suzette has got the chance to perform at the Royal Exchange.

“I’ve never worked there before although I have seen productions there,” she said. “It’s very exciting to get the chance and also to be back in Manchester. many moons ago I was in a TV series Surgical Spirits which was filmed at the old Granada Studios. Manchester has changed so much since then and I think it’s fabulous.”

Suzette believes that the Royal Exchange is the perfect setting for Electric Rosary.

“There is something very futuristic about the theatre itself,” she said. “It’s a space that presents lots of great challenges to you as an actor.”

Electric Rosary is Suzette’s second stage role after leaving Eastenders in September last year - she previously starred in Running With Lions at the Lyric Theatre in London.

“It’s lovely to be back in the theatre,” she said. “When you’re doing TV you don’t have the time to go through the full rehearsal process. One of the things I love about acting is that you get to be your own detective and when you are given a character you have to find out all the different things about them and piece it all together.

“You are doing your own editing when you are in the theatre. You do have to get back in touch with your soul and everything that you love about acting.”

For any actor leaving a hugely popular TV show after playing a key character can be difficult and Suzette is fully prepared to be referred to as “former Eastenders’ star” for some time.

“It goes with the territory,” she said. “I really enjoyed playing the character and got to work with some wonderful people on the show. I still get people asking me ‘why did you take his money?’”

On the soap she left her husband Patrick taking all his money with her.

“But the more work you do, the less people will focus on that one role. So for the moment you’ll know me as a nun!”

Electric Rosary, Royal Exchange, Manchester, Saturday, April 23 to Saturday, May 14. Details from