Drawing: Jenny Agutter in Equus

Jenny Agutter won a BAFTA Award for her performance as Jill Mason in Sidney Lumet’s 1977 production of Peter Shaffer’s psychological drama EQUUS, one of my favourite, if not my favourite play. In the 2007 London stage revival of the play featuring Richard Griffiths and Daniel Radcliffe at the Gielgud Theatre she portrayed magistrate Hesther Solomon. A couple of weeks ago I did this sketch of Jenny in both roles and sent it to her. She signed and sent it back with this dedication.

Sketch: Edward Fox in The Audience at the Gielgud Theatre

Edward Fox

Peter Morgan’s The Audience premiered in the West End at the Gilegud Theatre on 15 February 2013, directed by Stephen Daldry. The play centres around weekly meetings called ‘audiences’ between the Queen anad her prime ministers, from her accession in 1952 to the present. Helen Mirren won the Olivier, Evening Standard and WhatsOnStage awards for her portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II.

Originally playing the role of Winston Churchill was Robert Hardy, but he withdrew before Press night, due to a fall cracking his ribs, and was replaced by Edward Fox.

Winner of two BAFTA Awards in The Go-Between (1970) and A Bridge Too Far (1977), Edward’s distinguished acting career dates back to his stage debut in 1958 and his first film appearance was as an extra in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1962).

Arguably his defining role was the silent assassin in Fred Zinnemann’s 1973 thriller The Day Of The Jackal.

This a a 4B pencil portrait of Edward in his Churchillian pose, which he signed for me at a crowded stage door early in the run.

Drawing: Toby Stephens and Anna-Louise Plowman in Private Lives at the Gielgud Theatre

Toby Stephens and Anna Louise Plowman

Husband and wife team Toby Stephens and Anna-Louise Plowman appeared in Noël Coward’s classic comedy Private Lives at the Gielgud Theatre in July 2013.

A married couple playing a married couple; the line between reality and fiction becomes blurred and hard to define – a bit of ‘dramatic ambiguity’. It was the second time they played newly-weds Elyot and Sybil after a successful run at Chichester the previous Autumn. The entire cast, including Anna Chancellor and Anthony Calf, transferred to the West End.

Coward’s tale is of former lovers Elyot and Amanda who meet five years after their divorce while both on honeymoon with new amours. Reignited passion follows. Toby’s parents Dame Maggie Smith and Robert Stephens previously starred in a John Gielgud directed production of the same play, alongside Anthony’s mother-in-law Polly Adams.

Toby and Anna-Louise both co-produced the London transfer and both happily signed my sketch the stage door on an autumnal evening in September 2013.

Drawing: Emily Joyce in Yes Prime Minister at the Gielgud Theatre

Emily Joyce

In 2010 Emily Joyce appeared as the Prime Minister’s special policy advisor, Claire Sutton in Antony Jay and Jonathan Lynn’s stage version of Yes, Prime Minister. The production premiered at the Chichester Festival in May before transferring to the Gielgud Theatre in the West End in the autumn. Emily signed my biro sketch in January 2011 at the theatre’s stage door.

Drawing: Strangers On A Train starring Laurence Fox, Jack Huston, MyAnna Buring, Christian McKay and Miranda Raison

strangers on a train001

A ‘film noir’, live on stage. Robert Allan Ackerman’s stylish psychological crime thriller Strangers On A Train pays homage to Hollywood and heralds the successful return of the thriller to the West End.

Adapted by Craig Warner from Patricia Highsmith’s iconic 1950 novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s film version. The plot concerns two men that both have good reason to wish someone else dead. A seemingly innocent conversation soon turns into a nightmare for architect Guy Haines (Laurence Fox) when he meets Charles Bruno (Jack Huston) on a train journey. Over a bottle of whisky, Bruno suggests they should ‘exchange’ murders. Haines is trying to divorce his unfaithful wife (MyAnna Buring). Bruno hates his cruel father and wants an early inheritance.

Watertight alibis. No connection – the perfect criss cross crime. Except, when Bruno performs his side of what was never a real deal, it exposes the appalled Haines to the dangerous reality of blackmail and stalking.

Christian McKay plays the detective who sees through the flawed collusion; Miranda Raison plays the perfect Hitchcock blonde and Imogen Stubbs is the psychopath’s besotted mother. A swirling set constantly in motion, effortlessly changing locations and watch out for an impressive closing effect.

All the cast signed and inscribed the 4b pencil montage after Saturday’s matinee performance at the Gielgud Theatre London.

Drawing: Anna Chancellor and Toby Stephens in Private Lives

private lives001

Following a sell-out run at the Chichester Festival Theatre, this critically acclaimed revival of Noël Coward’s Private Lives transferred to West End’s Gilegud Theatre for a limited season until 21 September 2013.

Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor take the lead roles, as glamorous divorcées Elyot and Amanda whose love for one another is unexpectedly rekindled when they take adjoining suites for a French hotel while honey mooning with their new spouses five years later, played by Anthony Calf and Anna-Louise Plowman (Toby’s real life wife).

The original production in 1930 was heavily censored for being too risque. Critics appear united in their reviews of the 2013 version.

“Jonathan Kent’s production of Coward’s masterpiece is the best in a decade” (The Independent).

“Toby Stephens and Anna Chancellor give the most scorchingly sexy, intensely connected performances in London” (Mail on Sunday)

Both Anna and Toby kindly signed my sketch at the stage door this week.

Drawing: The Ladykillers starring Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller, Stephen Wright, Harry Peacock, James Fleet, Marcia Warren and Clive Rowe

the ladykillers001

Collecting siggies from large casts can be murder! The celebrated Ealing comedy The Ladykillers had seven cast members – not in itself a large number, and in fact to some a lucky numeral, but collecting their graphs could be no laughing matter. Waiting at the stage door after the show can prove a problem, because they may all come out at once (or they may all stay in for drinkies). And, unlike school children, lining up on command so you can collect their scribble one at a time isn’t usually in the thespians repertoire. It was best, I thought, to get them going in. Stupidly I chose the final week, so if you miss, it’s curtains.

A the penultimate Saturday matinee, I duly arrived at the Gielgud Theatre stage door at high noon. Like clockwork, each cast member arrived… individually, and gladly signed. Peter Capaldi, Ben Miller, Stephen Wright. I had actually got Harry Peacock earlier, passing the Comedy Theatre where his wife, Katherine Parkinson, was performing. I then discovered that I could get the ‘killers’, but the ‘Lady’ had already gone in. Bugger. But, James Fleet to the rescue, “If you trust me with your drawing I’ll take it in for her and return it.”

Great stuff. He returned promptly with Marcia Warren’s ‘graphed sketch. Oh, and one of the ‘killers’ had left the show due to illness. Clive Rowe was in my drawing but not in the house,  I eventually got his signature to complete the set at the Old Vic during the season of Kiss Me Kate, almost a year later!