Birmingham Stage Company

The Best of It

14 April 2006

Someone asked me today what sort of theatre I like. My taste is pretty broad but I tend to find I only see one piece of great theatre every year. Last year it was Death of a Salesman at The Lyric and (in no particular chronology) I loved Jesus Hoped The 'A' Train at The Arts directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman which had some of the best acting I've ever seen; Much Ado About Nothing with Matthew McFadyn's superlative performance (one of my favourite stage actors - too bad he generally sticks to TV); Mary Louise Parker in PROOF on Broadway; the first cast of Art (Albert Finney and Tom Courtney) which was at its best during the previews when an air of uncertainty pervaded the stage; Paul Scofield and Vanessa Redgrave in John Gabriel Borkman;  Liam Carney in Bedbound at The Edinburgh Festival - another astonishing performance; Alec Guiness in A Walk in the Woods; Richard Eyre's production of Guys and Dolls with Julia McKenzie, Bob Hoskins and David Healey; Bill Wallis in Brecht's Arturio Ui at The Bristol Old Vic; and Slava's Snowshow. Four of my greatest theatrical moments were provided by Tony Hopkins painting on his make-up before committing suicide in M Butterfly; Wendy Hiller simply turning her head to take a good look at Vanessa Redgrave in an extact of The Aspen Papers; Irene Worth being clasped by Ian McKellen in Coriolanus and Daniel Massey and Diana Rigg glaring at each other in The Follies. (I would also like to add Sammy Davis Jr singing Mr Bojangles in Las Vegas but I don't think this counts!). This list could leave you with the impression I see a lot of theatre - but sadly that wouldn't be true. I find bad theatre so difficult that I rarely venture out unless the show has been recommended by someone I trust - and there's only one person I trust. So I don't get out much! My favourite actors are Olivier, Colin Blakely, Charles Laughton and David Warner. My favourite theatres The Bristol Old Vic and the Haymarket in London. I guess that answers the question!

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