Drawing: Audrey Fleurot in Tartuffe

Autographed drawing of Audrey Fleurot in Tartuffe at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on London's West End

French actress Audrey Fleurot, made her West End debut last week in Christopher Hampton’s updated adaption of Moliere’s TRATUFFE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

Small screen fans will know her as Josephine Karlson in the cult French TV series SPIRAL and on larger screens as Magalie in the 2011 International hit film THE INTOUCHABLES. Her extensive theatre work in France includes Luc Bondy’s 2016 production of LE TARTUFFE at the Theatre de l’Odeon in Paris. In both versions of the Moliere classic she portrays Elmire, the wife targeted by a sleazy preacher. The West End reboot of this hard-hitting moral comedy is set in post-Weinstein America.

‘Tartuffe’ translates as ‘hypocrite’ or ‘imposter.’ ” Trump is a Tartuffe,” said Audrey in a recent Guardian interview. The original French productions in the mid 1660’s were banned twice for perceived anti-Catholicism and challenging religious values, but now it has become the most performed French classical play.

She signed this quick portrait for me on Saturday at the stage door.

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Drawing: Paul Anderson in Tartuffe

Autographed drawing of Paul Anderson in Tartuffe at Theatre Royal Haymarket on London's West End

Ten years ago South London actor Paul Anderson wasn’t an actor at all, he was a ticket scalper and aspiring musician, who longed to be a lead singer in a band. Then he was inspired to go to drama school- the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.

His break came in 2013 with the role of post World War I gangster Arthur Shelby Jr. In PEAKY BLINDERS. His other TV appearances included DOCTOR WHO, MIDSOMER MURDERS and LEWIS. Major films followed including Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Oscar-winning THE REVENANT and Ron Howard’s IN THE HEART OF THE SEA.

He made his West End debut in the title role of Moliere’s TARTUFFE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket last week. I caught up with ‘Boycey’ as he is known to friends and fans on Saturday at the stage door, where he signed this rehearsal sketch I drew of him for me.

Jason Watkins in Frozen

Autographed drawing of Jason Watkins in Frozen at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on London's West End

“Audiences may come to this production drawn by the star power of Suranne Jones, but will leave talking about Jason Watkins,” wrote David Butcher in his Radio Times review of FROZEN, which has been running at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket since February.

“His performance as Ralph, a serial killer and paedophile, who abducts children is strikingly sinister, a creepy tour de force”.

Suranne plays Nancy, a mother of a murdered daughter, killed by Jason’s character. Both actors were kept apart for most of the rehearsals to make the moment when they ‘collide’ on stage as ‘powerful’ as possible said director Jonathan Munby.

When you meet the BAFTA-winning Jason he is the complete opposite, one of the nicest people stalking the London boards, obviously not a method actor. He was more than happy to sign my drawing at the stage door a few weeks ago.

Drawing: Nina Sosanya in Frozen

Autographed drawing of Nina Sosanya in Frozen at the Theatre Royal Haymarket on London's West End

Nina Sosanya has made a welcome return to the London stage, playing Agnatha, a clinical psychiatrist in the West End revival of Bryon Lavery’s psychological thriller FROZEN, which opened last month for a limited run at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.

The dark and compelling 1998 three-hander with Suzanne Jones and Jason Watkins is not for the faint-hearted, dealing with the abduction and murder of a ten-year old girl. Nina’s character looks at the difference between crimes of evil and crimes of illness. This is a rehearsal sketch that Nina kindly signed for me when she arrived for last Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Natalie Dormer

English actress Natalie Dormer has returned to the West End this month as the brash, vulgar, unschooled actress Vanda Jordan in the Patrick Marber-directed two-hander VENUS IN FUR at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Natalie’s last appearance on the London boards was Patrick Marber’s AFTER MISS JULIE at the Young Vic in 2012. Reviews said she was “nothing short of sensational”. She also appeared two years earlier on the same stage as Mitzi in SWEET NOTHINGS. Natalie gained international prominence on the big screen as Cressida in THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY, Parts 1 and 2 and on the small screen as Margaret Tyrell in THE GAME OF THRONES.I meet her after Saturday’s evening performance at the stage door where she signed this drawing for me.

Drawing: Ophelia Lovibond as Elizabeth Barry in The Libertine

ophelia-lovibond2

This is the second sketch I drew of in-demand London actress with the memorable name, Ophelia Lovibond in her West End debut in the ‘sexually-charged masterpiece’ THE LIBERTINE. The Theatre Royal Bath production transferred to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for a limited season concluding earlier this month. Ophelia played 17th Century actress Elizabeth Barry opposite Dominic Cooper’s Earl of Rochester, Restoration England’s most notorious rake and pornographic poet.

Ophelia had signed my previous drawing early in the London run and I had this other one still in my folder when passing the theatre’s stage door after the final performance, where the cast were gathered with fans. I thought, why not and she was very complimentary about the second sketch and more than happy to sign it.

Drawing: Celia Imrie as Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques: The Musical!

celie-imrie

Celia Imrie won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical for her role as Miss Babs in the 2005 production of ACORN ANTIQUES: THE MUSICAL at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Celia became known for her television collaborations with Victoria Wood and in 1985 she first played the infamous Miss Babs, the love lorn owner of Acorn Antiques, known for her frequent parodic flirtations with customers and her abuse of her housekeeper Mrs Overall (Julie Walters).

The sketches were a parody on the low budget British soap operas, in particular CROSSROADS, with its low production values, overacting, wobbly sets, appalling dialogue and improbable plots. The West End musical version, directed by Trevor Nunn, which also parodied successful musicals such as LES MISERABLES and CHICAGO  premiered in February 2005 and ran for a three-month sell-out season.

Celia  recently returned to the London stage to play Goneril in the just completed KING LEAR opposite Glenda Jackson at the Old Vic, where I caught up with her to sign this sketch of her as Miss Babs.

Drawing: Lydia Piechowiak – Miss Giddy Heights

Lydia Piechowiak Drawing

English actor and burlesque artist Lydia Piechowiak is part of the cool cast of the Restoration romp THE LIBERTINE at London’s Theatre Royal Haymarket.
Lydia, whose surname is from her Polish ancestry is also known by her stage name, the intoxicating ‘Miss Giddy Heights.’

TimeOut calls her “The international burlesque Dynamo… shimmering from elegant to debauched at the drop of a feather fan,” ideal credentials for her current ensemble West End role. After completing a degree in TV, Film and Theatre from the University of Bristol Lydia studied at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York before establishing her own theatre company Open Door Productions.

Recently seen in the film BRIDGET JONES’ BABY, Lydia also received rave reviews from theatre critics as the over-the-top refugee maid Mitizi in the UK tour of Agatha Christie’s A MURDER IS ANNOUNCED earlier this year. I intercepted her exit from an evening LIBERTINE performance last week to get this drawing signed.

Drawing: Jasper Britton as Charles II in The Libertine

jasper-britton

I read that versatile British actor Jasper Britton spent a number of years as an assistant stage manager and sound operator until in 1989 he marched into Jonathan Miller’s Old Vic office and threatened to stay there unless he as given an audition for KING LEAR. His subsequent King of France to Eric Porter’s Lear was the start of a distinguished stage career, punctuated by playing monarchs at The National and under Mark Rylance’s tenure at Shakespeare’s Globe. His latest is Charles II in THE LIBERTINE at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, captured here in majestic 4B.

The ignoble British sovereign spent many an hour in the company of the notorious 17th century rake and poet John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester and the many… shall we politely say, fallen daughters of Eve. He is one of the only characters in the play to stand up to Rochester and grants him a valuable commission with the proviso, ”Don’t fuck it up.” Paul Taylor wrote in the Independent, “The best performance of the evening comes from Jasper Britton who brilliantly captures the posturing, overripe Charles II’s unnerving swings between chumminess and assertion.”

Jasper’s mode of transport to the theatre is a motorbike. Don’t ask me the make or model, but it’s big and fast. Clad in resplendent grey leathers, befitting royalty he arrived  for Saturday’s matinee on the said cycle, popped into the stage door to sign in and sort out the removal of his garb, then sauntered back out to sign this drawing.

Drawing: Nina Toussaint-White

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Nina Toussaint-White romps about the West End boards as Jane, the favoured prostitute in THE LIBERTINE, the bawdy 17th century tale of the Earl of Rochester (Dominic Cooper) currently playing the Theatre Royal Haymarket.
She made her professional debut in 2007 in an episode of CASUALTY, then THE BILL before securing regular and recurring roles in the soap EASTENDERS as the straight-talking Nurse Syd Chambers and Angie Bailey in EMMERDALE. She has also appeared in HOLBY CITY and DOCTOR WHO among others. Nina’s last stage appearance as Tree in the Theatre Royal Stratford East’s production of THE ETIENNE SISTERS garnered Nina a nomination for Best Performance in a Musical in this year’s UK Theatre Awards.

On Saturday, while a passing, annoying Autumn shower threatened to dampen my mission, I interrupted her fast trek to the stage door. Between us we managed to  balance her cooling cup of coffee, my broken umbrella, the artwork and a sharpie, all of which were co-ordinated sufficiently to get the said rendering signed with only minor rain-drop impressions.