Drawing: Freddie Fox in Travesties

For his last West End role Freddie Fox had less than 48 hours notice. It was just the minor part Romeo opposite Lily James in Kenneth Branagh’s ROMEO & JULIET at the Garrick Theatre last year, after the previous lead Richard Madden and his understudy Tom Hanson  took the phrase ‘break a leg’ a bit too literally. He got the call on Friday and “they wanted me on stage Saturday” he said. Technically he knew the role, having played it 10 months earlier at The Crucible in Sheffield. He described the first night as ‘a memory test’ an making sure he stood in the right play and not fall off the stage.

For his next trick, Freddie’s latest stage appearance as the avant-garde dandy Tristan Tzara in Tom Stoppard’s ‘fiendishly-complicated’ TRAVESTIES, he had months to prepare. Directed by Patrick Marber, the Menier Chocolate Factory production sold out before it opened at the off-West End venue before transferring to the Apollo. It weaves together a fictionalised meeting between Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce and the Romanian-French writer Tzara in Zurich in 1917.

In his four-star review for the Evening Standard, Henry Hutchings wrote, “It’s Freddie Fox who dazzles, revelling in the anarchic energy of a character who’s part nuisance, part genius.”  It’s a performance that has earned him a nomination for the best Supporting Actor Olivier Award at next month’s ceremony. Freddie signed this sketch for me at the stage door between shows last Saturday.

Drawing: Clare Foster in Travesties

Clare Foster will be known to the fans of ITV’s THE BILL as regular PC Millie Brown. She is also a regular on the UK stage, her latest appearance earning her a Best Supporting Actress Olivier nomination this year for her role as Cecly Carruthers in the major London revival of Tom Stoppard’s TRAVESTIES, which transferred from the Menier Chocolate Factory to the West End’s Apollo Theatre. It’s her first individual  nomination but second nod for Britian’s premier theatre award after being part of the 2006/07 AVENUE Q cast at the Noel Coward Theatre that received the Best Ensemble nom. I met her at the Apollo stage door between shows on Saturday where she signed my sketch.

Drawing: Tom Hollander in Travesties

Tom Hollander’s welcome return to the stage after a six-year absence has resulted in a Best Actor Olivier Award nomination for his ‘career-best’ performance in Tom Stoppard’s golden oldie TRAVESTIES. The Menier Chocolate Factory’s revival, directed by Patrick Marber, sold out before opening night late last year and transferred to the West End’s Apollo Theatre.  Tom plays the central Henry Carr, who  was a British consular official in Zurich during the first World War and encountered  Russian communist revolutionary Lenin, the founder of Dada, Tristan Tzara and Irish author James Joyce, all of whom were in the city at the time. As a member of a group of actors called The English Players, managed by Joyce, he was cast in the leading role of Algernon in Oscar Wide’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.

In his five-star review, The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish said “Tom Hollander is hilarious in this mind-bogglingly entertaining Stoppard revival”. He went on to write, “Tom Stoppard’s award-winning 1974 comedy finds the man, who memorably described himself as a ‘bounced Czech’ performing such hire-wire feats of linguistic daring that even undertakes an entire scene in the limerick form. And that’s not the half of it: there are exchanges in Russian, outbreaks of nonsense, a super-abundance of allusion, word-play, parodies and to crown it all, a running pastiche of THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST.” Tom signed my sketch of him as Henry at the Apollo’s stage door last weekend.