Drawing: Toby Stephens and Lydia Leonard in Oslo

Autographed drawing of Lydia Leonard and Toby Stephens in "Oslo" at the Harold Pinter Theatre on London's West End

OSLO tells the story of two maverick Norwegian diplomats who coordinated top secret talks that inspired seemingly impossible friendships leading to the groundbreaking Oslo Peace accords in 1993 between the Palestine Liberation Organisation and the State of Israel. JT Rogers play opened last year at the Lincoln Centre in New York, winning the Tony Award. The London production opened at the National Theatre for a brief and sold out run before transferring to the Harold Pinter Theatre in the West End. Toby Stephens plays Terje Rod-Larsen and Lydia Leonard, his wife Mona Juul, the Norwegian diplomats who orchestrated the Peace accord between Yitzhak Rabin and the PLO’s Yasser Arafat. Both Toby and Lydia signed my sketch a couple of weeks ago at the Pinter stage door.

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Drawing: Ben Miles, Nathaniel Parker, Lydia Leonard and Paul Jesson in Wolf Hall / Bring Up The Bodies

Wolf Hall Bring Up The Bodies

After selling out its RSC premiere at Stratford, acclaimed productions of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies made their London transfer to the Aldwych Theatre in May. Both plays are running in repertory until September.

The double bill, adapted by dramatist Mike Poulton and directed by Jeremy Herrin, tell the compelling story of the political rise to power of Thomas Cromwell, in the court of Henry VIII. He was Britain’s original working class hero, according to the author.

The adaptions compress 1,246 pages of print into five and a half hours of stage time with the complex interactions of 70 characters, seven of whom are annoyingly called Thomas.

Hilary won the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and repeated the success with Bring Up The Bodies in 2012. They are the first two parts of Hilary’s projected trilogy of Henry’s fixer – the third, The Mirror and the Light is currently being written “at haste”, as you read this.

Ben Miles plays Cromwell, Lydia Leonard is Anne Boleyn, Nathaniel Parker as Henry VIII and Paul Jesson as Cardinal Wolsey.

Mark Lawson in The Guardian says: “English ecclesiastical reform was driven by the King’s soul as well as his penis… Henry’s succession needs gave an opening to Protestant plotters in his court.”

Drawing: Lydia Leonard in Onassis

Lydia Leonard

In 2010 British actress Lydia Leonard played the role of Jackie Onassis in Martin Sherman’s play Onassis at the Novello Theatre in London, alongside Robert Lindsay in the title role.

The ex-Mrs John F. Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis, Greek shipping’s biggest player. “I don’t think I’d have like her, had I met her,” Lydia told a journalist. “My sympathies lie entirely with Maria Callas,” (with whom the shipping magnate had a doomed affair – Maria called it ‘Marilyn Monroe plays Ophelia’).

“She would put on this voice – breathy and saccharine – which made her seem stupid. She absolutely wasn’t. She was intellectual, manipulative and enigmatic.”

Hanging around the Novello stage door, which has zilch cover, in the middle of winter is no fun, but the Onassis cast were. I drew a few sketches – mostly quick montages with the soft 4B lead – to capture the characters energy. It took a few visits in rain, hail and sign, but a very pleasant way to start 2011.

Lydia is currently playing Anne Boleyn in a double bill of Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the Aldwych.