Drawing: Toby Stephens and Hattie Morahan in The Real Thing at The Old Vic Theatre

The Real Thing 1

Anna Mackmin’s revival of Tom Stoppard’s 1982 post modern comedy The Real Thing was staged at the Old Vic in the spring of 2010. Described as the play within a play within a play as a study of bourgeois adultery. It is about the acquisition of self-knowledge through pain. Henry (Toby Stephens) s a successful, elitist playwright who abandons his wife to live with the exuberant Annie (Hattie Morahan) only to find himself the victim of deception.

Reviews for the production were glowing with critics agreeing that the acting of Toby and Hattie was superb.

The Real Thing 2

Drawing: Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington

Irish golfer Padraig Harrington gave up accountancy to turn professional in 1995 after a successful amatuer career and quickly won his first tittle – the Peugeot Spanish Open – the following year.

In both 2003 and 2004 he was runner up in The Players’ Championship.

At the 2007 Open Championships Padraig became the first golfer from the Republic of Ireland to win the Title, defeating Sergio Garcia in a four hole playoff at the Carnoustie Golf Links. A year later, his defence of the the tittle at Royal Birkdale was in jeopardy due to an injured wrist, but he overcame a 2 shot deficit to Greg Norman to retain the famous Claret Jug.

The win moved him to third in the world rankings. Three weeks later he won his third major, The PGA Championship at the South Course of The Oakland Hills Country Club. Between 2001 and 2010 Padraig spent over 2300 weeks in the top ten of the Official World Golf Rnkkings. He has also represented Europe six times in the Ryder Cup, winning in 2002, 2004, 2006, and 2010. His best finish in the two remaining majors is a 4th in the US Open in 2012 and 5th twice (2002, 2008) in The Masters.

Padraig signed this sketch at last week’s Scottish Open at the Royal Aberdeen curse in the warm up to this week’s Open Championship at Royal Liverpool.

Drawing: Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams In a Forest Dark and Deep at the Vaudeville Theatre

In a Forest Dark and Deep

 

Neil LaBute’s In A Forest, Dark And Deep received its world premiere in London’s Vaudeville Theatre in March 2011. It starred Matthew Fox in his stage debut and Olivia Williams, and ran for a limited season until early June.

Set in a woodland cabin on a dark and stormy night, the play is described as a “dark comedy of sibling rivalry” that turns psychological thriller. It’s a two-hander. Involving Bobby and Betty in a 90 minute confrontation that keeps the audience guessing as to who is the ‘manipulator’ and who is the ‘manipulated’ punctuated with surprises.

Speaking of punctuation, there was some discussion amongst critics and theatre-goers alike about Neil’s, comma in the title, considered at best redundant, and at worst just plain  wrong…

Drawing: Flora Spencer-Longhurst, William Houston and Indira Varma in Titus Andronicus at Shakespeare’s Globe

Titus Andronicus

Shakespeare’s Globe opened its 2014 summer season with a revisiting of Lucy Bailey’s hugely successful Titus Andronicus.

Audience members were warned in advance of its grisly content with the offer of witnessing one of the darkest and most seminal productions in the Globe’s history. In the height of summer in 2006 dozens of people who bought standing tickets fainted each show. Fainting isn’t exactly uncommon amongst Globe groundlings (£5 standing ticket holders) so, “our front of house staff are very well trained,” said a Globe spokesperson.

Grotesquely violent and daringly experimental, Titus was the smash hit of Shakespeare’s early career, “written with a ghoulish energy he was never to repeat. “It stars William Houston as the unstable Roman general Titus and Indira Varma as the haughty Goth Queen Tamora in what one critic described as ‘Tarantino-esque’.

Playing Lavinia, Titus’s daughter, actress Flora Spencer-Longhurst has her tongue and hands cut off after she is raped. “Despite my character having her tongue ripped out, it is the most articulate role I have ever played!” she told The Daily Mail.

On one particular evening alone it was reported that five people had fainted. The Independent’s Holly Williams wrote, “A confession: I fainted. I’m not alone. Audience members are dropping like flies at this revival of Lucy Bailey’s infamously gory 2006 staging.”

Escaping the bloodshed on Saturday for the final performance, I dodged raindrops and left this sketch at the stage door, which Williams, Indira and Flora kindly signed for me, without spilling a drop of red stuff on it.

Drawing: Amanda Drew, Samuel West, Tim Pigott-Smith, Tom Goodman-Hill in Enron at the Noel Coward Theatre

Enron

The world premiere production of Lucy Prebble’s celebrated play Enron sold out its entire run at the Minerva Theatre Chichester and all of its tickets before opening its six week run at the Royal Court. It transferred to the Noel Coward Theatre in January 2010. Directed by Rupert Goold, the cast featured Samuel West, Amanda Drew, Tim Pigott-Smith and Tom Goodman-Hill.

Enron was inspired by one of the most famous scandals in financial history, reviewing the tumultuous 1990s and casting a new light on the fiscal turmoil in which the world currently finds itself. Its tagline: A true story of false profits.

Despite its commercial and critical success, Enron lasted just over a month on Broadway at the Broadhunt Theatre in the Summer of 2010. A ‘hostile’ review by The New York Times critic Ben Brantley is thought to have contributed to the premature clsoure. As the Guardian’s Michael Billington pointed out, “no serious play on Broadway can survive a withering attack from The New York Times, which carries the force of a papal indictment”. It did pick up a Tony nomination for Original Score.

The four leads all signed my sketch at the Noël Coward stage door on 8 May 2010.

Drawing: Lydia Ko

Lydia Ko

Seventeen year old New Zealand golfing sensation Lydia Ko played the Women’s British Open at Royal Birkdale (20 miles north of Liverpool) this week, ranked No 2 in the world.

She was the world’s top ranked amateur golfer for 130 weeks before turning professional in October 2013. Born in Seoul, South Korea, and raised in New Zealand, Lydia began playing golf as 5 year old, when her mother took her to a pro shop at the Pupuke Golf Club in Auckland. In April 2014 she was named one of TIME Magazines’s 100 most influential people.

Lydia signed my sketch on a practice day at the famous Merseyside Course.

Drawing: Bernard Jordan The Great Escaper

bernard jordan

The story that knocked the speeches of world leaders and royalty off the front pages during last month’s 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings in Normandy during World War II was Bernard Jordan. Bernard, 89, served as an officer in the Royal Navy at the D-Day landings. He was part of Operation Overlord.

He captured the hearts of millions and became Britain’s favourite runaway, sneaking out of the Pines Nursing Home in Hove to join compatriots at the commemoration on Normandy Beach, sparking a frantic missing persons search. The staff had tried to get Jordan a place on the tour with the Royal British Legion, but it was fully booked.

He summarised the spirit and determination of June 6, 1944 and hatched a cunning plan. On the Thursday morning, wearing a grey mac to hide the medals pinned on his best suit, Bernard slipped out of the houme, headed to Brighton station and caught a train to Portsmouth. He found a party of veterans on the dockside and hitched a ride on a ferry to Normandy.

He lacked accreditation, but managed to evade security to be within 100 yards of the Queen and other world leaders.

He returned home, not to the telling off he feared, but a hero’s welcome and a cup of tea. “I had a good time, every minute of it. I’m pleased I did it. I’d do it again tomorrow,” he said.

The former Mayor of Hove was honoured with the Freedom of the City for “capturing the imagination of a generation.” On his 90th birhtday a week later he was overhelmed with 2,500 cards from around the world, including one from me and this sketch, which he kindly signed and returned.

Drawing: Julie Atherton as Kate Monster in Avenue Q

Julie Atherton Avenue Q

Julie Atherton was part of the original West End cast of the musical Avenue Q when it transferred from Broadway to the Noël Coward Theatre in June 2006. She played Kate Monster and Lucy the Slut until December 2007, returning to the production at the Gilegud in late 2008 until October 2009. I saw the show in June that year where Julie signed these sketches for me.

Julie will be playing the lead role in Thérèse Raquin at the Park Theatre in London from 31 July to 24 August 2014.

Julie Atherton

Drawing: Mark Rylance, Miriam Margolyes, Simon McBurney and Tom Hickey in Endgame

End Game ‘Graph collecting in London in the dead of winter. What better than to stalk a Samuel Beckett play to match the cold, dark and bleak elements. The fourth revival in a decade of Beckett’s Endgame at the Duchess Theatre, considered along with Waiting for Godot to be among his most important works. One critic said it was like “watching a world edge into darkness.” Beeckett liked his plays to be as colourlesss as posssible. This one seems to be set in a grey area somehere near the end of the literary universe. The title is taken from the last part of a chess game, when there are very few pieces left. It involves four characters; Hamm, who is blind and unable to stand; Clov, a servant, unable to sit; Nagg, Hamm’s father with no legs and lives in a dustbin and Hamm’s mother, Nell, who also lives in a dustbin next to her husband and has no legs. Simon McBurney directed te production and played Clov, with Mark Rylance as Hamm. It also featured Tom Hickey as Nagg and Miriam Margolyes as Nell. The Duchess is on of the few West End Theatres to have veranda over the stage door, because it’s only a few metres away form the man entrance. However, on a particularly inclement November night in 2009, driving horizontal rain with extras rendered it useless – in fact it became a collection point for large quantities of H2O and acted as a a sieve. thankfully one drip landed on my caption text and not the artwork or sigs. God respects ‘graphers, me thinks.

Drawing: Imogen Stubbs in Little Eyolf at the Jermyn Street Theatre

Imogen Stubbs

Actress and playwright Imogen Stubbs is a veteran of over 40 plays, starting with the role of Sally Bowles in Cabaret at the Wolsey Theatre in 1985. In 2011 she took her most harrowing part as Rita in Henrik Ibsen’s 1894 play  Little Eyolf at the Jermyn Street Theatre in London.

“No one could describe Ibsen’s play as fun, but Imogen Stubb’s performance almost blows the roof off the theatre,” wrote Charles Spencer in The Telegraph.

Imogen’s most recent foray onto the West End boards was Strangers On A Train. She signed this sketch for me at the Jermyn Street Theatre in May 2011.