Drawing: Rory Kinnear in Young Marx

Autographed drawing of Rory Kinnear in Young Marx at The Bridge Theatre in London

Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr both left the National Theatre in 2015 and have established London’s first commercial playhouse in 80 years, the brand spanking new £12.5 million, 900 seat auditorium Bridge Theatre next to the City Hall on prime South Bank real estate, under the shadow of Tower Bridge. It opened last October with the new comedy, YOUNG MARX, written by Richard Bean and Clive Colman, reuniting the team behind one of the NT’s biggest smash hits ONE MAN, TWO GUVNORS.

Directed by Sir Nicholas, it featured Rory Kinnear in the title role, as the renowned revolutionary and author of ‘Das Kapital’ who, as a 32-year-old German Jew is living in penurious exile in Soho’s Dean Street with his wife and children. It attempts to synthesise the the spirits of Karl and Groucho, demystifying Marx as ‘broke, restless and horny… a frothing combination of intellectual brilliance, invective, satiric wit and child-like emotional illiteracy’… and a bit of a piss-artist who aims to have a pint in every pub in Tottenham Court Road.

Paul Taylor in his four-star review for the Independent wrote, “Rory Kinnear is on glorious form here-believably both as a high-powered intellectual and a greasy-maned emotional disaster area.” Rory signed my drawing for me after I left it at the stage door before the show ended last week.

Drawing: The Last Of The Haussmans

The Last of the Haussmans

Gathering a cluster of four star reviews from every major British critic, Stephen Beresford’s debut play THE LAST OF THE HAUSMANNS ran at the National Theatre in London in the latter half of 2012. Directed by Howard Davies, it featured Julie Walters as high society drop-out Judy Hausmann with Rory Kinnear and Helen McCrory as her wayward offspring Nick and Libby.

The darkly humorous family drama ‘explores the fate of the revolutionary generation and offers a funny, touching and at times savage portrait of a family full of longing that’s losing its grip’. I’m a huge fan of all three and was very pleased to receive my signed sketch back after leaving it at the stage door.

Drawing: Rory Kinnear in Othello

Rory Kinnear

“Rory Kinnear is a National Treasure”,states The Independent, and they may well be right. Throughout the summer of 2013, the brilliant British actor played the Shakespearian villain Iago opposite Adrian Lester in the title role of OTHELLO at the National Theatre in London. Both won the Best Actor Award at the Evening Standard Awards with Rory going on to win his second Olivier. The Mail’s Quentin Letts wrote it was a “fine performance from Mr Kinnear, who cements his reputation as one of our stage’s stars”.

His last theatre success however was as a playwright with his debut play THE HERD, which opened at the Bush Theatre in September 2013. It was shortlisted for the Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards and has just ended it’s first American run at Chicago’s legendary Steppenwolf Company.

Rory is currently treading the boards, or in this case a 15m long moving ‘travelator’ as Josef K in Richard Jones’s production of Nick Gill’s adaption of Franz Kafka’s THE TRIAL at London’s Young Vic. During rehearsals for the play he was also required for night shoots on the next Bond film SPECTRE, reprising the role of M16’s ever-dependable Tanner. He said he would finish at 5am and then be required at rehearsals between 11 and noon, so sleep was in short supply. A punishing schedule made all the more extreme when he is on stage for the entirety of the interval-free production.

Then, just when you finish a Saturday evening after a long week, looking forward to the Sunday off, you are confronted  at the exit by a serial sketcher wanting you to sign a drawing. But, true to form, Rory was his usual amiable self…’Ah, another masterpiece”, he complimented. (Rory actually has a HAMLET sketch I did of him, framed and hanging on his wall at home.) Sleep deprivation I modestly thought.

Sketch: Rory Kinnear and Clare Higgins in Hamlet

Hamlet Clare Higgins Rory Kinnear

Rory Kinnear’s portrayal of Hamlet in the 2010 production at The National Theatre is considered by many of the theatrical great and good to be a generation defining portrayal of the Great Dane. It was the National’s former artistic director Nicholas Hytner’s first time directing Shakespeare’s most famous play. His Denmark is a modern dress production set in a surveillance state.

The Independent’s David Lister called it , “a chilling production that demanded to be seen”. He said, “A great Hamlet is not only a Hamlet of this time, it can be a Hamlet that defines his time”.

“Kinnear shows a Hamlet whose depression can be seen in fits of unwarranted aggression, withdrawal, manic high pitched laughter, intense unhappiness or simply desperate attempts to make sense of anything “. He won the 2010 Evening Standard Sward for his portrayal. He was praised for a his, “bold reinvention of the Dane”.

Lister makes special mention of Clare Higgins, “revelatory Gertrude… predicatably, the marvellous actress redefines the role. Gone is the weak, lovestruck pliable and guilt ridden mother and wife. This is more realistically a woman who will have a drink when it suits her, is more than capable of barking out orders herself and knows exactly what she wants out of life”.

Not always an easy place to catch cast members, given the many exits available at the National Theatre, I was very fortunate to catch both Rory and Clare who loved the sketch and were more than happy to ‘graph it for me.

Drawing: Rory Kinnear in Hamlet at The National Theatre

Rory Kinnear

Outstanding thespian Rory Kinnear has been shortlisted for two Evening Standard Theatre Awards – Best Actor for his astonishing portrayal of Iago opposite Adrian Lester (also nominated) in the National’s Othello. He has also got the nomination for the Most Promising Playwright for The Hero at the Bush Theatre.

The award winners will be announce this Sunday (17 November 2013) at the Savoy Hotel in London.

Rory kindly signed my sketch of him in Hamlet with a nice dedication at the National Theatre in October 2010. I gave him a copy and he said he had it framed and hanging in his home the day he got it.