Monday, 22 March 2010

Round the Halls

Whenever casting directors or whoever ask me what I've seen at the theatre lately, I usually cough in a mildly embarrassed fashion and apologetically mumble "...well, it's difficult to find time when you're on stage so much yourself, but..." and then trot out my prepared answer.
Last week however, to my lovely wife's delight, I absented myself at bath-time to see THREE shows.
"Beauty Queen" was, of course, a delight. And surprisingly un-agonising to watch yet another very fine actor doing a proper Irish accent in the role of Mr P Dooley. It's extraordinary how the same play, with the same words and largely the same blocking can be so transformed in the hands of new actors, but it was an enthralling two hours. I think Alan DeVally has actually morphed into Ray - it's scary.
Then Friday to the Oxford Playhouse - where I made my own stage debut in 1978 - to see Ben Warren (Tony in "Abs Party Mk I") in Theatre Alibi's "Ministry of Fear". I'm ashamed to say that there was a time when the term "physical theatre" would have made me scrunch up the Guardian and draw my knees into my chest, but that was before I'd actually seen any. It was breathtaking work, and worth every penny of...whatever they charge for it.
But the surprise, the unexpected gem, was "Loving April" at my local village hall. Small-scale touring outfit OTC really pulled it off with a gorgeously simple drama about a deaf girl (the remarkable Sarah Thomas-Lane) who's an object of pity and abuse in the local community, but who ends up teaching others rather more about honour and respect than she ever learns from them. Lovely ensemble and multi-role playing in a tiny, tiny space.

Thursday, 4 March 2010


My grandma died today. It's not really an appropriate subject for this journal, but I mention it because she was an enthusiastic performer herself.
Because I was a "late entrant to the profession" as they say, by the time I was working in the West End she was very old and had already succumbed to Alzheimer's. So sadly, she never saw me there, or on TV or film, or on tour with LCT, or anywhere except some small fringe venues. However, she was very proud of her grandson - "the ACTOR" as she'd tell anyone who would listen - and the world is a much poorer place without her. She was a lovely woman who never tired of telling me what a lovely shaped head I have, what a funny name she thought Jake was and how very much she loved me. Good night, God bless x