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Actress Clare Perkins on getting away when you’ve earned it and unplugging, but only if it doesn’t cause stress

We caught up with Perkins, who plays the lead in “The Wife of Willesden,” which will be at the ART later this month, to talk about all things travel.

Clare PerkinsKiln Theatre, London

British actress Clare Perkins remembers watching an episode of “Aerial America” (a TV series on the Smithsonian Channel) that featured Massachusetts. “I said that I wanted to go there,” she said. “I love coastal cities and old buildings. … I’m really excited to finally be coming to Boston.” Perkins, 57, plays the lead in “The Wife of Willesden,” which will be at the American Repertory Theater for a three-week run Feb. 25-March 18. In a phone call from London, where she lives and where the play is being staged, Perkins said that audiences can expect to laugh … “a lot.” Playwright and author Zadie Smith transforms an excerpt from Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” into a story about 50-something, five-time-divorced Alvita — played by Perkins — who does not hold back in sharing her life story with anyone in the local pub who will listen. “It’s very bawdy and quite rude,” she said. “My character just tells everyone what she thinks they need to know about marriage and doesn’t hold back. I think some audience members will be shocked when they hear a woman saying things that are usually said by men.” Perkins, who has appeared on stage, screen, and in numerous British TV shows including the popular “EastEnders,” encouraged women to bring their husbands. “You’ll be happy you did,” she said with a laugh. We caught up with Perkins — who has three children, three grandchildren, and three cats, and who lives in Lewisham, London — to talk about all things travel.

If you could travel anywhere right now, and money was no object, where would you go?


Nepal. I like walking — especially walking up hills, so Nepal would be amazing for that. I also like traveling by rail and the railway journeys in the mountains look fantastic.

Where was the first place you traveled to after COVID restrictions were lifted?


Belgium. It was for work, but it was amazing. I was there for a week, and was able to spend time in Brussels — and even managed a day trip to Ghent [in the Flemish region of Belgium], which is like a medieval city. It’s on a river and is so old and wonderful. Belgium also has great shopping.

Do you prefer booking trips through a travel agent or on your own?

Book it myself.

Thoughts on an “unplugged” vacation?

No phone is good, as long as it doesn’t cause anxiety.

Do you use all of your vacation time or leave some on the table?

I go away when I’ve earned it.

What has been your worst vacation experience?

I haven’t really had one; bad things always turned out good.

Do you vacation to relax, to learn, or for the adventure of it all?

All three.

What book do you plan on bringing with you to read on your next vacation?

I love Douglas Stuart’s book “Shuggie Bain,” so I want to read his new one, “Young Mungo.”

If you could travel with one famous person/celebrity, who would it be?

Colin Farrell because I literally fancy the pants off him.

What is the best gift to give a traveler?

A nice notebook and pen.

What is your go-to snack for a flight or a road trip?

Tuna mayonnaise sandwiches made by me with my choice of gluten-free bread. It’s an airport habit these days: I check in, walk through duty-free, sit down and eat my sandwich before my flight.


What is the coolest souvenir you’ve picked up on a vacation?

An American Air Force jacket in Dublin.

What is your favorite app/website for travel?

I haven’t really got one, but I do like my e-mails from the walking holiday company Headwater.

What has travel taught you?

That the world is huge, that life is fun, and that there is no end to wondrous things and happenings.

What is your best travel tip?

Don’t panic!