Drawing: Ben Whishaw and Katherine Parkinson in Cock at the Royal Court Theatre

cock

Provocatively titled, Cock was Mike Bartlett’s punchy new Olivier award winning play, which premiered at The Royal Court in 2009, directed by James Macdonald.

When John takes a break from his girlfriend, he accidentally meets the girl of his dreams. But difficulties arise when you realise you have a choice. It’s a piece full of the male member slang connotations, including the traditional British ‘cock and bull’ story and staged in a circular bullring, or more aptly, a ‘cockpit’.

The brilliant BAFTA award winning Ben Whishaw played ‘John’ – the only properly named character in the play, with the rest of the quartet labelled ‘M’ ‘W’ and ‘F’ – man , woman, father. The equally talented Katherine Parkinson was the only female cast member, playing ‘W’, a tender divorcee.

Shy, but always friendly, Ben, who is currently mesmerising audiences and critics in Mojo, signed at the Noel Coward stage door after a performance of Peter and Alice in April 2013.   I then sent the sketch to Katherine who was the lead in Before the Party at the Almeida.

Drawing: Mojo, starring Brendan Coyle, Rupert Grint, Daniel Mays, Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan and Tom Rhys Harries

mojo

The first major revival of Jez Butterworth’s Olivier award-winning black comedy Mojo is currently in previews at the Harold Pinter Theatre in London. The original production directed by Ian Rickson opened at the Royal Court Theatre in July 1995 prior to a sell out West End run in 1996.

Two of Britain’s great theatre collaborators, Jez and Ian reunite for this staging after their hit sensation Jerusalem and the critically acclaimed The River in recent years. A subsequent film adaption featuring Harold Pinter himself, was directed by Jez in 1997.

Set against the fledgling rock’n’roll scene of 1950’s Soho, the savagely funny play delves into the sleazy underworld and power games of London’s most infamous district. It features a stellar ensemble cast, Brendan Coyle, Rupert Grint (making his stage debut), Daniel Mays, Ben Whishaw, Colin Morgan and Tom Rhys Harries. The first performance was on Saturday evening (26 October) which I was lucky enough to get a £10 ticket for (standing in the balcony). I returned on Monday with my sketch which all the cast signed at the stage door. Mojo opens 13 November and will run to 25 January 2014.

Drawing: Ben Whishaw and Judi Dench in Peter and Alice

Peter and Alice Blog

The Michael Grandage Company’s second of five theatrical treats at the Noel Coward Theatre is Peter and Alice written by John Logan, it’s a moving study of enchanchment and reality after a brief encounter between the real-life models for Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, laying bare the lives of two extraordinary characters shaped by JM Barrie and Lewis Carroll. The actual fleeting meeting took place at a literary event in 1932, when Alice Liddell Hargreaves was 80 and Peter Lleweullyn Davies was 35. Logan speculates on their imagined conversations, looking at how we are all shaped by our childhoods. The children who inspired two classics meet as emotionally bruised adults in a dusty old bookstore and explore their views of past relationships with the authors and the price that they have paid when fame is foisted on the child heroine and the boy who never grew up. It is a tale of two tortured souls with Peter struggling the most with the unwanted fame. “I think I know what childhood is for. It’s to give us a bank of happy memories against future suffering.”

Alice passed away peacefully and contented, Peter committed suicide, throwing himself under a train in Sloane Square. The principle characters are played by Dame Judi Dench and Ben Whishaw – transferring ‘M’ and ‘Q’ from the screen to Wonderland and Neverland from the recent Bond film Skyfall (also written by John Logan).

Both actors are terrific on stage and off stage. They are great signers, but the problem is that they leave at opposite ends of the theatre. Alice through the front looking glass (barriered) and Peter flies out the back. In order to avoid having to go back twice, signature strategy requires some prior intelligence. My spies told me that Ben usually exits first, then the mob hot foot it to the front of the theatre for Dame Judi. And that’s exactly what happened. As all good bedtime stories should finish.