Swansea native Des Barrit is known for his comedic stage performances such as Bottom, Falstaff, Toad and the Antipholus twins in A COMEDY OF ERRORS for which he won the Olivier in 1992. His latest West End outing is as Hugh, the gay best friend of Stockard Channing’s character Kristin in Jamie Lloyd’s revival of APOLOGIA at the Trafalgar Studios. Although a compelling and at times tense family drama, Des once again punctuates the pathos with humour and most of the funniest lines, “Kristin is to diplomacy what I am to heterosexuality,” to quote one example.
I drew this montage of Des, including his 2002 Olivier-nominated role as Falstaff in HENRY IV Parts 1 & 2 at the Theatre Royal Bath and W.H. Auden in the National’s A HABIT OF ART, which he signed after a Saturday evening performance I was lucky enough to see a couple of weeks ago.
Although known as a ‘grumpy signer’ by the autograph collecting ‘fraternity’ – I guess it was one of the unique features of getting a Griffiths ‘graph with the gruffness, I personally always enjoyed meeting him and never had a refusal. He had one of the nicest signatures – full name, well scripted and always consistent.
He signed this sketch at the National during his season of The Habit of Art in January 2010. I was waiting at the stage door after an evening performance with a number of other hopefuls – a mixture of zombies and audience members. Richard eventually came out. I was standing on my own to the left of the exit. He stopped and started to roll a siggy a ciggy. After a few moments he turned to me and said. “I’m just having a cigarette.”
“Feel free,” I replied.
A little while later he said, “Have you got something for me?”
“What is it?”
“A sketch,” I said
More minutes passed. I think I was the ‘graph guinea pig that evening, testing Richard to see if he was ‘in the mood’.
“Can I see it?” he asked.
“Sure,” and I showed it to him.
“Very good. Do you want me to sign it?”
“To Mark,” I told him and handed him the Sharpie. He did the siggy, finished the ciggy, hopped in the waiting car and left. I wonder if he’ll sign for God?