Instead of quietly slipping off to Tuscany and working on his memoirs, veteran British actor Gawn Grainger stepped into the role of ex-showman Billy Rice in THE ENTERTAINER, the final production in the Kenneth Branagh season of plays at The Garrick. The 78 year-old replaced John Hurt, who was originally cast to play the father of washed-up music hall performer Archie Rice, but had to withdraw for medical reasons.
Gawn’s illustrious stage career began with his West End debut at the age of twelve before going on to be part of Lawrence Olivier’s inaugural season at the National Theatre and has since worked with the professions finest. Paul Taylor wrote about Gawn’s performance in his Independent review “Gawn Grainger is perfection at conveying the Edwardian staunch pride and garrulous irritability with the modern world.” He signed my drawing at the stage door, commenting, “it looks like me,” which is always a good sign.
George Farquhars 1706 Restoration comedy The Recruiting Officer was Josie Rourke’s first play as the new artistic director at the Donmar Warehouse in 2012. She assembled an impressive cast for this pacy and complicated piece in which big themes (love and war) are presented amid a riot of bed-hopping, social blockades, meddling servants and enticing legacies. Described as an unashamed celebration of love, lustiness and victory in battle and in the bedroom, it was a critical success, ensuring Josie’s tenure at the Donmar got off to a bright start.
On the 12th of April 2012, I managed to get all the cast on my sketch (Nicholas Burns, Nancy Carroll, Mackenzie Crook, Kathryn Drysdale, Mark Gatiss, Gawn Grainger, Tobias Menzies and Rachael Stirling) to sign it – not an easy feat given that there were eight of them leaving through various exits and often at the same time.