BAFTA wining actor James McAvoy returns to London’s Trafalgar Studios in the madcap revival of Peter Barne’s zany 1968 black comedy The Ruling Class, directed by Jamie Lloyd. It closes the second season of ‘Trafalgar Transformed’ at the Whitehall venue.
It’s an attack on the establishment in all its forms – aristocracy, public school, the church, the military. James plays Jack, the 14th Earl of Gurney and the dodgy offspring of a toff who inherits a peerage when his father topped himself while playing a sex-hanging game in a tutu.
Jack is a paranoid schizophrenic who believes he is Jesus Christ after an epiphany at a public urinal in East Acton.
“How do you know you are God?” he is asked.
“Simple” he replies. “When I pray to him, I find I am talking to myself.”
However, the mock messiah’s family scheme against him so he has to prove some sanity to keep the inheritance, fitting in with his peers to become the “right sort of mad”.
The Guardian’s Susannah Clapp describes James’ performance as “eel-like protean, with a mephistophelean charm” (note to readers, Mephistopheles was a demon in German folklore). “He’s just fascinating, brilliantly weird,” said Time Out.
The Ruling Class runs until 11 April 2015.