Drawing: Simon Rouse in The Dresser

simon-rouse-fool

Simon Rouse plays the Fool… and plays the Fool very well in Sean Foley’s polished revival of Sir Ronald Harwood’s classic play THE DRESSER, about ‘Sir’, a veteran Shakespearean and his loyal dresser touring in the shadow of World War Two at the Duke of York’s. ‘an absolute delight’ and a ‘glorious cameo’ are two of the reviewers descriptions of his foolish performance.

Simon’s recent London appearances included JB Priestley’s WHEN WE WERE MARRIED at the Garrick over the Winter of 2010/11 and his role as Gerald in the UK tour of the stage production of Simon Beaufoy’s 1997 comedy-drama film THE FULL MONTY which transferred to the West Ends Noel Coward theatre in 2014. On the small screen Simon devotees will know him as Detective Chief Inspector Jack Meadows in the ITV long-running police drama THE BILL and he popped in CORONATION STREET as Rita’s ex-lover Rusty a few years back.

Anyway back to the Fool. Simon’s actual character is ageing actor Geoffrey Thornton who is part of a ‘war-surplus cast of cripples, old men and pansies’, and makes his debut in KING LEAR as the Fool, keen to impress ‘Sir’. He certainly impressed the critics with The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish writing. “Simon Rouse is memorably awful (no doubt meant in a good way) as the hastily recruited stand-in for The Fool.”

Drawing: Hangmen

Hangmen 2

After a 12-year hiatus writing for the stage, London-born Irish playwright Martin
McDonagh returns to theatre, which he described in The Observer as the ‘worst of all artforms’. If that’s the case, he’s doing his best to mock that  statement with his latest dark comical  offering, HANGMEN, a savage satire on the justice and punishment system – ‘the grimmer side of the swinging sixties’.

Described by one reviewer as a cross between Harold Pinter’s ‘linguistic gamesmanship’ and Joe Orton’s ‘gallows humour’, it’s the Olivier, Oscar and BAFTA winner’s first play set in England, in a small pub in Oldham in 1965 to be precise. Receiving rave reviews and a cluster of five-stars after it’s sell-out run at the Royal Court earlier last year, the production transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre and is scheduled to finish in March this year.

What’s Harry Wade, the second-best hangman in England to do on the day they’ve abolished hanging? A reporter and the regular tavern sycophants want to know his reaction, as a peculiar stranger lurks amongst them with a very different motive. Led by David Morrissey as Wade, the outstanding cast includes Andy Nyman, Johnny Flynn, Sally Rogers, Bronwyn James, Ryan Pope, Simon Rouse, Craig Parkinson, Tony Hirst, John Hodgkinson,James Dryden and Josef Davis.
With such a large  ensemble, it took more than one sketch to fit them all in and more than one attempt to get it graphed. At this point I thought of resisting the term ‘hanging around stage doors’. But I didn’t. If it’s good enough for distinguished critics like Dominic Cavendish to write “doesn’t loosen it’s grip from start to finish,” and Paul Taylor to say “drop-dead hilarious… perfectly executed,” then I’m in good company. And speaking of good company, the HANGMEN cast were excellent on and off the stage.

Hangmen