21 November 2021
If anyone ever asked me about my theatrical ambitions, they were always straightforward: I hoped to have good parts, in good plays, with good directors. A few years later I added: with good audiences. Not large, but involved, engaged audiences who were really with you. The sort of audiences I’ve just experienced this weekend. I had to hurry up to Glasgow from London on Friday to cover one of our wonderful but poorly actors and got there with twenty-five minutes to spare. I’d had five hours on the train to refamiliarize myself with a script I’d performed five years previously and when I arrived there was no time left other than to get dressed and walk on stage. But this is no ordinary stage. The King’s Theatre was designed by Frank Matcham, who built some of the best theatres in the country and boy, don’t you know when you’re in a Matcham. Every single one of the 1,785 seats were there at our fingertips, and although there would only be two of us on stage for the next two hours, it was like having the entire audience on stage with us. Which means eight hundred Glaswegians! Their welcome was extraordinary and we surfed a wave of joy for the duration. Next day we had twelve hundred, on all of the four levels, and my amazing fellow actor, Morgan Philpott, described the roar at the end like something out of the Roman Colosseum. The evening show delivered another injection of delirious fun. The energy they gave us and the constant interaction was utterly invigorating. Neither of us could sleep on Friday night, we were so restless with unexpended buzz. If I ever have to step in again at short notice, please let it be Glasgow! They were the audience that dreams are made of.
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