Playwright of the moment, James Graham currently has two plays featuring in the West End, only doors apart on St Martin’s Lane. INK, the story of the Sun newspaper opened at the Duke of York’s in September after transferring from the Almeida Theatre and at the Noel Coward Theatre, his take on the Labour party’s thorny past, LABOUR OF LOVE opened earlier this month with Martin Freeman and Tamsin Greig in the lead roles.
It’s very rare to have a new play open directly into the West End without a prior try-out lelsewhere. Martin plays David Lyons, Oxford educated Blairite MP for the East Midlands and Tamsin is Jean Whittaker, the long-time constituency office agent of the staunch leftie old guard persuasion. Described as a political romcom, LABOUR OF LOVE is set on the night of the 2017 election night rewinding back through the party’s history over the previous 27 years.
It’s full of gags such as this one when Jean comments on the party selecting the red rose when rebranding in the nineties, “it looks pretty, but it’s full of pricks.” Both Martin and Tamsin signed this sketch for me last weekend at the stage door.
The brilliant Tamsin Greig and Haydn Gwynne have both been nominated for this year’s Olivier Awards for their respective roles in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.
Previous Olivier winner (for Much Ado About Nothing) in 2007, Tamsin has been nominated for Best Actress in a Musical for her musical debut as Pepa, the lead role in the hilarious adaption of Pedro Almodovar’s Oscar nominated 1988 cult film which, following the Tony nominated production on Broadway, took to the Playhouse Theatre in London’s West End late last year. For her performance as the bitter ex-wife Lucia, Haydn received her second Olivier nomination after her previous nod for her role as Mrs Wilkinson in Billy Elliot. She reprised the role on Broadway, earning a Tony Award nomination.
The Guardian’s Michael Billington’s review included: “there is strong support from Anna Skellern, who seductively suggest hat Candela’s (her character) sexual abandon is more a product of untidiness than promiscuity and from Seline Hizli as a putative bride induced to orgasm by the valium laced gazpacho.”
I sent this sketch of the four to Haydn who not only signed it, but got the other three to do the same. Originally booked for a limited season, the production has now extended for three months until 22 August 2015.
Tamsin Greig said she was inspired to become an actor going to rehearsals of school plays… because it got her out of science and the only other thing she was good at was trampolining which didn’t seem to have much of a future in it.
In 2010, Tamsin played Diane, a ferociously ambitious agent in The Little Dog Laughed, alongside Gemma Arterton, Rupert Friend and Harry Lloyd at the Garrick Theatre in London. By all accounts she stole the show, some critics even said “saved it”. She had all the best lines.
In fact, the play is more a vehicle for Diane’s character. As Michael Bilington calls it, “the play depends on an ingenious imbroglio. Diane… this power-dressed female Machiavel.”
“Tamsin Greig dominates as the lethally sharp agent, detonating every line with killer punch and timing.” Said The Daily Express.
She was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress (having previously won in 2007 for Much Ado About Nothing) and won the WhatsOnStage Theatregoers Choice Award. Tamsin is known for doing both dramatic and Comedic roles, although the latter generally cause problems. Sh has admitted to ‘corpsing’ which is British theatrical slang for unintentionally breaking character by laughing.
When I looked at this sketch, which Tamsin signed in February 2010, I thought ‘her hands are disproportionally larger”. Taking into account some foreshortening with the left. So I looked at a number of photos of her and she does have large hands and long fingers! Art indeed imitated life. That must have been the same for Michelangelo when he was sculpting the the David statue.