In the immortal words of Scrooge, “A merry Christmas to every-body! A happy new year to all the world! Whoop!”
What better time to post this sketch of the wonderful Welsh actor Rhys Ifans as one of Charles Dickens’ most memorable characters in the Old Vic production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in London. It’s the ultimate redemption story, the cold-hearted miser who despises the festive season, until the Christmas Spirits fill him with love and joy.
We saw the excellent production a couple of weeks ago and Rhys signed this drawing for me yesterday at the stage door.
When it premiered in 1960, Harold Pinter’s first big hit, THE CARETAKER changed the face of modern theatre. The psychological study of the confluence of power, allegiance, innocence and corruption among two brothers, Aston and Mick and the homeless hobo Davis. The Old Vic’s latest revival, directed by Matthew Warchus stars Timothy Spall, who specialises in characters outside the social norms He plays Davis, the classic Pinter outsider,disruptive, insistent, menacing yet pathetic. Daniel Mays is the kindly Aston and George MacKay portrays the brutal brother Mick, who exposes Davis as an ‘Artful Dodger.’
I caught up with Daniel and George during a passing shower, under the protection of a cheap umbrella at the stage door and Timothy a week later in drier conditions. All three were happy to sign this sketch.
In 2011 four time BAFTA nominee Anne-Marie Duff played Alma Rattenbury in Terrance Rattigan’s final play Cause Célèbre at London’s Old Vic directed Thea Sharrock.
It was part of the centenary celebrations for the acclaimed English playwright. Originally staged in London in 1977, just a few months before the dramatist’s death, the courtroom drama is based on the famous case of Alma Rattenbury who was charged in 1935, together with her teenage lover, with the murder of her husband who had been bludgeoned to death. It is structurally daring, mixing the traditional conventions of courtroom drama with flashbacks.
“Anne-Marie Duff is electrifying in this terrific revival” wrote Charles Spencer in his four star Telegraph review.
The enigmatic multi award-winning actor, Kevin Spacey has been the Old Vic’s Artistic Director since 2003. His efforts have been recognised by a variety of accolades, including an honorary CBE from the Queen.
On stage, I have been fortunate enough (without paying a fortune) to see Kevin in two productions at the theatre. Inherit the Wind and Richard III. The latter reunited director Sam Mendes with Kevin for the first time since their successful collaboration in the Oscar winning film American Beauty.
With Kevin in the title role as the tyrant monarch (although his newly found skull, found under a Leicester car park, suggested he did not have the face of a deformed despot, which pleased the anti-Shakespeare/pro-Richard faction) the production began at the Old Vic in mid 2011, followed by a worldwide tour, culminating in a New York season in 2012.
With his other play and at various public appearances such as opening nights, premieres, even Mikhail Gorbachev‘s 80th birthday bash (Kevin was MC) at the Royal Albert Hall. I have always found him a generous and gracious signer.
He even had his own ‘siggy stall’ – a custom built signing window next to the Old Vic stage door, which he stands behind after each performance, signs and poses for pics. However, for Richard III he did not use the protective porthole and did not sign at all. It was probably due to the taxing final scenes in which he hangs upside down for some length of time. It would take a while for him to stabilise into a Sharpie controlling state. So I left the sketch at the stage door with a note and a stamped self-addressed envelope. It was returned to me within the week.