Birmingham Stage Company

The Wrong Show

9 July 2006

I suppose it’s not often in an actor’s life that someone will walk up to you in the wings and whisper: “We’re doing the wrong show”. But half way through The Terrible Tudors on Thursday morning at the Sunderland Empire, my stage manager walked up to me as I was about to enter as Henry VIII and said: “We’re doing the wrong show. We should be doing the Victorians”. My face became frozen in a temporary stare of astonishment. “I think we should carry on, but the theatre want us to stop” he offered further. “I’ll stop it” was my single response. There weren’t even two seconds to think what I was going to say as I walked on stage and declared “I’m bored of doing the Tudors. Let’s stop now and do the Victorians instead”. I will long remember the stunned look of utter bemusement on the faces of my fellow actors. And so, twenty minutes later, we were back on stage, in Victorian costumes, feeling slightly surreal and forgiveably giddy.

When all the lights went out just before the end of the afternoon performance (a workman had drilled through a cable in the city centre!) we did begin to wonder whether Sid James (who died on stage at the Empire) was having one of his memorable laughs.

Now that we have started this theatrical fashion, it will surely only be a matter of time before actors throughout the country will be walking on stage saying “I’m bored of playing King Lear – let’s do Hamlet instead!”

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