Drawing: Antony Sher and Tara Fitzgerald in Broken Glass

Broken Glass

“Arthur Miller’s 1994 play towers over the dismal lowlands of current West End theatre like a majestic mountain peak.” wrote The Guardian’s Michael Billington in his five-star review of Broken Glass. Pretty impressive stuff from one of Britain’s leading critics.

The play focuses on Phillip and Sylvia Gellburg, a Jewish couple living in 1938 New York whose lives are affected by the anti-Semitic events of Kristallnacht (The night of Broken Glass) in Nazi Germany. Sylvia becomes paralysed from the waist down, a condition her doctor believes is psychosomatic and treats it as such. But what was the cause and who is the real cripple?

Originally staged in London at the National in 1994, this revival began at the Tricycle Theatre, a small fringe venue in Kilburn in late 2010. It returned for a month run in August the following year before transferring to the Vaudeville Theatre in the West End in September for a four month season. An excellent cast was headed by Antony Sher and Tara Fitzgerald in the lead roles. “Sher gives a superb performance of crippling anxiety…Fitzgerald brings a potent mixture of warmth,sensuality and grief,” wrote Charles Spencer of their performances in the Daily Telegraph. Both signed my sketch in person on a chilly winter’s evening at the stage door.

Sketch: Antony Sher in Henry IV parts 1 and 2 at the Barbican Centre

antony sherThe Guardian’s esteemed critic Michael Billington writes that the Royal Shakespeare Company’s current production of the Bard’s two Henry plays at London’s Barbican Centre contains a ‘major, magnificent and magnetic performance from Antony Sher as Falstaff, the comic sack-soaked carouser, coward and companion to Price Hal. It is something we have come to expect from an actor who never gives any role less than his all.

Winner of two Laurence Olivier Awards in 1997 for his portrayal of British painter Stanley Spencer in Stanley and in 1985 for his towering break-through performance as the title character in Richard III. In the latter, Sir Antony propelled himself around the stage on two giant crutches (as a result of his own injury,adding authenticity to his portrayal) which Billington rates along with Olivier’s 1955 film version as the best he has seen. It was a performance that ‘still haunts me’, he said.

Gregory Doran’s Henry, Parts I & II -‘A sublime blend of fathomless gloom and mad merriment’ continues at the Barbican until 24 January.