Kit Harington and Johnny Flynn are currently playing warring brothers Austin and Lee until next month in the West End revival of Sam Shephard’s ‘ferociously funny’
TRUE WEST at London’s Vaudeville Theatre. Described as a classic study of sibling rivalry, the 1980 play was a finalist for the Drama Pulitzer Prize. Austin is a clean-cut family man and Hollywood writer who has retreated to his mother’s Southern California home to finish a screenplay. He is disrupted by Lee, his older, feral brother, a petty thief and drifter, who has been wandering the Mojave Dessert for past three months.
In his Guardian review, Michael Billington points out that, “putting it crudely, Austin and Lee are both sides of a single personality – the instinctual and the intellectual aspects of the American character,” and summarises the performances, “At their best, the two actors are very good. Harington is especially convincing in the later stages as Austin unleashes his inner fury, aiming wild, drunken swings at the empty air and threatening to strangle his brother with a whipcord. Flynn also captures Lee’s initial menace as he hovers in a bullying manner over his brother and turns a golf club swing into a virtual death threat.”
Both Kit and Johnny kindly signed my drawing at the stage door prior to Christmas, and not a golf club in sight.
After making his stage debut as Albert in the original cast of WAR HORSE on the Olivier stage at the National Theatre in 2007, Kit Harington auditioned for his first small screen role, landing the part of Jon Snow in the TV phenomenon GAME OF THRONES and galloping to international fame.
Michael Giltz in the Huffington Post wrote, “Kit Harington makes his debut as Albert and I’m not certain if he’s a major new talent or just ideally suited for this particular role, but he’s wonderfully understated as the rough, simple but sweet kid who is devastated to find his dad has sold the horse to the military so he joins up so he can find Joey and bring him home safely.” The production transferred to the New London Theatre in London’s West End in April 2009 with Kit reprising his role until September that year.
He returned to the stage in April to play the over-reaching protagonist in the revival of Christopher Marlowe’s 1594 tragedy DOCTOR FAUSTUS at the Duke of York’s, which is now into its final week.
Kit had previously signed a Faustus sketch for me during early previews, but I was keen to get this one graphed of him as the Doctor and Albert. I managed to find a close enough spot among the quickly growing throng behind the stage door barriers after Saturday’s matinee when Kit does his customary session with the fans and managed to slip it to him through the sea of selfies. He appreciated the sketch particularly the WAR HORSE reference, even taking the time to dedicate it for me.
Successful Elizabethan playwright and Shakespeare’s contemporary Christopher Marlowe is buried in an unmarked grave not far from where I reside, in the churchyard of St Nicholas, Deptford. It was on May 18, 1593 that Marlowe was arrested for blasphemy. Ten days later his mysterious early death was reported after being knifed in a local tavern. He was only 29.
One of his most renowned plays was ‘The Tragical History of the Life and Death of Doctor Faustus’, commonly referred to simply DOCTOR FAUSTUS, based on the German ‘Faustbuch’. The story of an embittered academic, frustrated with the futility of religion and desperate for a deeper understanding of the universe, he risks everything to conjure up a meeting with the demon Mephistophilis, asking him to make a deal with the devil and selling his soul in return for the ability to perform absolutely anything including the power to perform black magic. References to ‘The Devil’s Pact’ go back as far as the 4th Century, but Marlowe’s hero differs in that his protagonist is unable to repent in order to have the pact annulled.
Playing the title role in Jamie Lloyd’s latest revival at the Duke of York’s theatre is another 29 year-old Christopher… Christopher Catesby Harington, commonly known as Kit, making his first return to the London boards since playing Albert in the National Theatre’s WAR HORSE. As the new series of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES is about to screen, he confirmed that his character, Jon Snow, was killed off and dies in the snow at the hands of his own men in the series 5 finale. “I do appear in the new series, but as a corpse,” he revealed to the NY Daily News. “It’s my best work”, he joked.
The show’s massive fan base has descended upon the theatre in droves. I joined the frenzied gathering at the end of the stage door alleyway on Saturday night, held out this quick drawing of Kit as Faustus and he managed to sign it for me, before barriers were installed and some decorum prevailed… and Kit left.