Drawing: Sir Ian McKellen as King Lear

Autographed drawing of Sir Ian Mckellen as King Lear at the Chichester Festival Theatre

After a decade, Sir Ian McKellen returned to play KING LEAR at the Chichester Festival Theatre in a sold-out five-week season late last year. Having played the role in Trevor Nunn’s 2007 production for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Sir Ian felt that performing it in vast theatre’s meant he declaimed lines that should have been more softly spoken or even whispered.

The contemporary retelling of Shakespeare’s most unforgiving tragedy in the intimate 280 seat, wrap around Minerva stage gave him that chance and at 78 he is closer to Lear’s age, which helped him achieve his aim: not to act Lear, but to be Lear in what is “probably his last big Shakespeare part,” according to a recent BBC interview.

The critics agreed, after six decades of acting, Sir Ian ‘reigned supreme’. “McKellen is never less than astonishing,” wrote Neil Norman in the Express, “McKellen is in full command of a lifetime’s acting technique,” said Mark Stenton in The Stage and ‘McKellen meticulously explores Lear’s delusions of grandeur,” exclaimed the Metro’s John Nathan.

I left this drawing at the theatre, which Sir Ian signed and dedicated with a bronze sharpie complete with a metallic glow on his insignia.

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Drawing: Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, Owen Teale and Damien Molony in No Man’s Land

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Following their hit run on Broadway, Sirs Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart brought the Pinter masterpiece NO MAN’S LAND to the West End for a sell-out season at Wyndham’s Theatre, which concluded on Saturday last. They were joined by Owen Teale and Damien Molony in this much-anticipated revival of Harold Pinter’s 1975 cryptic and hilariously tragicomedy directed by Sean Mathias.

A pub postman, Spooner (Sir Ian) is invited back to the luxurious Hampstead pad of Hirst, (Sir Patrick) a famous writer, where they proceed to get trollied on epic amounts of whiskey and vodka, and spend the evening in drunken conversation as the guest ingratiates himself on his near comatose host only interrupted by the intimidating manservants Briggs (Owen) and Foster (Damien). The play is evoked by the classic English farce, laden with ‘peachy’ one-liners such as Briggs, “the best time to drink champagne is before lunch, you cunt.”

In a nutshell, it looks at the absurdity and chaos of late life and the disintegration of memory. TimeOut said of the Sirs performance,”Two actors who still live up to their legend, nailing one of the great works of a playwrights who still lives up to his.”

I managed to get Sir Ian, Owen and Damien to graph this montage sketch in person at the stage door, but Sir Patrick was a little more elusive. I tried on a few occasions, but he had  guests or had to rush off, so missed him. However, caught in no man’s land in the final week, I passed it onto  the helpful Joshua at Wyndham’s, who did get the drawing to Sir Patrick and it was returned signed, completing the set.

Drawings: Ian McKellen and Simon Callow in Waiting for Godot at Theatre Royal Haymarket

Ian McKellen Estragon

Following on from yesterday’s Pickup Lines, I also produced sketches of the other main characters from Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot in a similar ‘elemental’ style – like the play itself.

Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon and Simon Callow as Pozzo also signed their respective renderings at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in August 2009.

Simon Callow - Pozzo Simon Callow note

Drawing: Sir Ian McKellen in Waiting for Godot at Haymarket Theatre Royal

Ian McKellen001

Yes, Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellen signed for me in February 2010. He was performing in Waiting for Godot at the Haymarket Theatre Royal. Lovely man, great play.