Drawing: Joseph Millson in Apologia

English actor and singer Joe Millson was attracted back to the London stage by the script of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s APOLOGIA, which is currently running at the Trafalgar Studios until November. Joe plays both sons; the calm but troubled Simon and the thick-skinned banker Peter, who attend their mother’s (Stockard Channing) birthday, a matriarchal figure and famous art historian who has just published her memoirs neglecting to mention her them.

It was originally drafted for two actors but it was director, Jamie Lloyd’s innovation to use one. “It’s very light, easy-to-watch stuff, but leaves you with a punch in the gut,” said Joe in a recent interview. Theatre critic, Neil Dowden, writing his review in Exeunt wrote, “Joseph Millson excels in contrasting Peter’s self-confident directness with Simon’s subdued, more obliquely accusing manner.” I did suggest to Joe, while he was signing my sketch at the stage door, that they should be paying him double for the dual roles, an idea that appealed.

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Drawing: Freema Agyeman in Apologia

DOCTOR WHO’s Freema Agyeman made her West End debut last month in the revival of Alexei Kaye Campbell’s family drama APOLOGIA at the Trafalgar Studios. Known as Martha Jones,the Time Lord’s companion and Alesha Phillips in LAW & ORDER:UK, Freema plays Claire, the unrepentant girlfriend. Ironically she turned down a chance to debut on stage at the Donmar sixteen years ago for a role in the soap CROSSROADS, now appears for the first time on the London boards as a spirited soap star. She signed this sketch I drew at the stage door after a Saturday evening performance a few weeks ago.

Drawing: Laura Carmichael in Apologia

Since playing DOWNTON ABBEY’s Lady Edith for the last time in 2015, Southampton- born Laura Carmichael has been developing an impressive stage career. Last year she appeared in Jamie Lloyd’s THE MAIDS at the Trafalgar Studios and has returned to the intimate London venue this month in another one of his productions, the revival of Alexei Kaye Campbell’s 2009 spiky family drama APOLOGIA.

“However, it’s Carmichael who – released from the corsets of DOWNTON ABBEY – almost steals the show from Stockard Channing. She’s superb as American physiotherapist Trudy, turning uptick lilt of every nervous platitude into comedy gold”, wrote Tom Wicker in his The Stage review.

Laura signed my Trudi sketch at the stage door after last Saturday’s matinee performance.

Drawing: Desmond Barrit

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.

Drawing: Evanna Lynch and Colin Campbell in Disco Pigs

Enda Walsh’s two-hander debut play DISCO PIGS is currently enjoying its 20th Anniversary revival at London’s Trafalgar Studios 2, directed by John Haidas. HARRY POTTER’S Evanna Lynch joins Irish actor Colin Campbell as ‘Runt’ and ‘Pig’, two teenagers born at the same time, on the same day and in the same hospital, who have been inseparable until their 17th birthdays when their cocooned world is destined for a head-on crash with reality.

Review Hub scored it 4 stars under the banner ‘Pig’s Fly’. I meet both Evanna and Colin at the stage door last weekend and we’re more than happy to sign and dedicate my sketch. The production ends this weekend.

Drawing: Stockard Channing in Apologia

Stockard Channing has made a successful return to the London stage after a ten year absence in Jamie Lloyd’s revival of Alexi Kaye Campbell’s family drama APOLOGIA at the Trafalgar Studios. The 73 year-old Tony and Emmy award winning actress plays the celebrated art historian, activist and ‘monstrous matriarch’ Kristin Miller who is at odds with her two sons and their partners who gather to celebrate her birthday. Central to the story is the debate about ‘bad’ sixties mothers and their abandoned-feeling offspring which surfaces when her recent memoir that omits her sons becomes a touchy subject. Quite brilliant,” wrote Ann Treneman in her Times review, Dominic Cavendish headlined his Telegraph review with “Stockard Channing is a contemptuous treat,” and ” Stockard Channing is in top form,” said Tom Wicker in The Stage.

I was very fortunate to see the play thanks to the generosity of Nick, a fellow ‘grapher, who I met at the stage door as we waited to meet Stockard prior to last Saturday’s performance. He had a spare comp ticket, which he kindly offered me. She popped out after the matinee to sign for us including this drawing and was very chatty and complimentary. So I got to see her on and off the stage – bonus!

Drawing: The Philanthropist at the Trafalgar Studios

Simon Callow directs a brand new production of Christopher Hampton’s most celebrated play THE PHILANTHROPIST at London’s Trafalgar Studios, which opens this week after a fortnight of previews.  It’s a ‘fiendishly clever inversion’ of Moliere’s THE MISANTHROPE, which the writer describes it as a ‘biting bourgeois comedy’, centring on an academic whose morbid compulsion to please everyone has the opposite effect.

After a ‘try-out’ at the Royal Court in London, the play premiered on Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in March 1971. It was nominated for three Tony Awards, including Best Play. “Christopher Hampton was 23 and it was his first big hit – a stonking success,” said Simon Callow, who has gathered together a young cast, light on theatre experience, but well known to TV audiences.

THE INBETWEENERS star Simon Bird makes his stage debut, joined by Tom Rosenthal, his co-star in Channel 4’s FRIDAY NIGHT DINNER, FRESH MEAT and CALL THE MIDWIFE’s Charlotte Ritchie, BAFTA winner Matt Berry from the IT CROWD and actress-model Lily Cole, who all signed my montage sketch heading in for Saturday’s matinee.

Drawing: Barnaby Kay in Buried Child

barnaby-kay

My final character sketch of the cast of Sam Shepard’s dark psychodrama BURIED CHILD is Barnaby Kay who plays Tilden, a ‘distracted man-child’ who has returned to his paternal home and a dysfunctional family to potter around outside digging up vegetables….which his parents performed by Ed Harris and Amy Madigan say don’t exist! The limited run at London’s Trafalgar Studios began last November and has been extended until next month. Barnaby’s career involves an extensive mix of TV, film and stage appearances. He spent the early years as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and appeared in the 1998 Best Picture Oscar-winner SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. He signed this sketch for me at the stage door last December.

Drawing: Ashleigh Grey, Lizzy Connolly and Lauren Samuels in Vanities

vanities

A revised version of  VANITIES, A NEW MUSICAL, based on Jack Heifner’s book and the 1976 play, debuted at the Trafalgar Studies in London for a limited, one-month run last September.

The original production premiered Off-Broadway in 2009. The West End show starred Ashleigh Grey, Lizzy Connolly and Lauren Samuels as Kathy, Joanne and Mary, three best friends growing up in Dallas,Texas at a time when image and style was more important than brains and ambition.

As the promotional slogan stated, “They’re Pretty, They’re Popular, They’re Clueless.” The London production featured new material not heard in New York.

I left this drawing of Ashleigh, Lizzy and Lauren at the Studios on the final day and when it didn’t come back, I thought I must have missed them. But, yesterday it arrived in the mail.

Drawing: Jeremy Irvine in Buried Child

jeremy-irvine

Six years ago British actor Jeremy Irvine was playing a tree in David Greig’s RSC production of DUNSINANE at Hampstead theatre, before he was plucked from ‘the forest of obscurity’ to play the lead role in Steven Spielberg’s big-screen adaption of the epic WAR HORSE.

Jeremy was about to give up acting, finding work was difficult and a career change was on the cards. He had never been in a film before, but learnt to ride, gained 14lb of muscle and learnt the Devonshire accent for two months of auditions. The legendary director wanted a newcomer to play the role of Albert. “I saw hundreds of actors, but no one had the heart, the spirit and the communication skills that Jeremy had,” he said.

Late last year he returned to the London boards as Vince in Sam Shepard’s American gothic play BURIED CHILD at the Trafalgar Studios, alongside Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. I caught up with him in after a Saturday evening performance in December and he signed my drawing for me.