The Prince of Homburg or, to give it its full German title: Prinz Friedrich von Homburg oder die Schlacht bei Fehrbellin was written by Heinrich von Kleist around 1810, but not performed until after his suicide in 1821.
During the Prussian war with Sweden young army officer, the Prince of Homburg, is court martial led for disobeying orders form the ruling elector and sentenced to death. I has been the subject of many films and an opera Der Prinz von Homburg but Hans Werner Henze in 1960.
An English stage adaption by Dennis Kelly premiered at the Donmar Warehouse from July to September in 2010 with Ian McDiarmid as The Elector and Charlie Cox in the title role.
Inspired by true events, Stephen Sachs new play debates the nature of authenticity. Kathleen plays Maude, a boozy ex-bartender living in a Bakersfield trailer park who picks up what she claims is a Jackson Pollock for five bucks while trawling through a junk shop.
Ian is Lionel, a lecturer in Abstract Expressionism at Princeton University who is asked to verify the painting or declare it a fake. The play goes beyond the painting. It’s a culture clash between a woman desperately seeking validation for her life and a snobbish connoisseur of fine art. Which one is real?
While I was drawing the sketch I was reminded of Kathleen’s infamous line as the uncredited voice of Jessica Rabbit, Roger Rabbit’s flirtatious toon wife in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? In an interview she said it was just fun to do and that line was too good to pass up. Apparently half her autograph requests are to sign Jessica photos.
I met Kathleen and Ian after Wednesday’s (18 June) evening performance at the Duchess Theatre. They both liked the sketch and were happy to sign it. I was tempted to ask Kathleen to write her Jessica line, but maybe I’ll keel that request for another sketch. I think The Graduate would be more appropriate.
Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid’s resumé of rich classical stage roles and critical accolades was elevated into popular culture when he appeared as the Emperor in 1983s Star Wars, Return of the Jedi, and subsequently Senator Palpatine / Darth Sidious in the prequel trilogy.
Ian is currently back on stage in A Life of Galileo, the translation of Bertoit Brecht’s masterpiece by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s writer-in-residence, Mark Ravenhill. The RSC’s production opened last year at Stratford-Upon-Avon before a national tour.
The year is 1609 and the brilliant Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei used the invention of the telescope to discover the ‘eureka moment’ realising the earth orbits the sun. The play’s central focus however it his conflict with the Catholic Church, who denounced him as a heretic and threat to their religious dogma.
Ian signed my sketch at the Rose Theatre, Kingston last week. A Life of Galileo moves to the Arts Theatre in Cambridge this week until 5 April.