Playwright James Graham’s latest triumph QUIZ just finished at London’s Noel Coward Theatre. After a sell-out season at the Chichester Festival Theatre the play about the ‘coughing Major millionaire scandal’ enjoyed an equally successful three month West End run. In April 2003, Army Major Charles Ingram, his wife Diana and their alleged accomplice Tecwen Whitlock, who is said to have prompted him with right answers with tactical coughs, were convicted for cheating on the hit TV quiz show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE two years earlier. But were they really guilty? The decision is left up to the audience, who become the jury.
The critical response was best summed up by Paul Taylor in the Independent. “With a mix of populism, personal tragedy, politics and even a pub quiz, this is sure to be another hit for a playwright on a roll.”
Gavin Spokes and Stephanie Street played Charles and Diana Ingram, with Keir Charles in a variety of quizmaster roles, including an ‘uncanny’ Chris Tarrant, MILLIONAIRE’s popular host. All three signed my quick sketch on the penultimate Saturday of the run.
‘I’ve been dead for three days. A Woman. A suicide. A choice. A life. A lie. A truth. An ending. Of sorts.’ The brief summary of the 70 minute one-woman play DUST, written and performed by Milly Thomas.
After its award-winning, sell-out run at the 2017 Edinburgh Fringe DUST transferred to London’s Soho Theatre for four weeks in February last year. It was one of two plays Milly had running at the Festival, the other was BRUTAL CESSATION. DUST is the story of Alice, a twenty-something, high functioning depressive with a double-edged gift for masking how unwell she is. Alice takes her own life and is forced to watch the aftermath of her suicide and its ripple effect on family and friends, realising death isn’t the change she hoped for. The play serves to open up the conversation about the reality of living… and dying with depression.
“I wanted my play DUST to be a battle cry for life,” said Milly, who wrote it six years ago in response to her own mental health issues. “I was frightened to write it, I knew I would have to perform it”. It was a performance, which won her the Stage Edinburgh Award and described by Evening Standard critic Henry Hutchings as “courageous in portraying vulnerability. Alice is wildly profane who has a flippancy, born of being powerless, in life and death.”
I left this montage sketch at the Soho, which Milly signed and returned for me.
Autographed drawing of Frances Barber in An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre on London’s West End
One of Britain’s finest actresses Frances Barber continues her impressive and comprehensive theatre repertoire as the blackmailing Mrs Laura Cheveley in the Classic Spring Company’s Oscar Wilde Season production of AN IDEAL HUSBAND at London’s Vaudeville Theatre.
Nominated for two Olivier Awards-CAMILLE (1985) and UNCLE VANYA (1997), Frances plays the femme fatale –”bitingly witty, famously well dressed, cruel, ambitious and above all, duplicitous” and repeatedly described throughout the play as the product of ‘horrid combinations’. She returns from Vienna as a ‘ghost from the past’ to expose and blackmail the much-admired politician Sir Robert Chiltern.
Frances signed my sketch last week at the stage door.
English actress Sally Bretton has returned to the London stage as the ‘too virtuous to be true’ Lady Chiltern in Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND, the penultimate production in Dominic Dromgoole’s year-long Wilde season at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Last seen as Goneril in KING LEAR at Shakespeare’s Globe a decade ago, Sally plays the adoring wife who believes she has found the ‘ideal husband’ in the upright and incorruptible politician Sir Robert Chiltern. But he harbours a dark secret.
Sally will also be known to TV viewers as Lucy Adams in NOT GOING OUT with Lee Mack and as Martha Lloyd in DEATH IN PARADISE. She signed my quick sketch at the Vaudeville stage door last week.
For the first time, real-life father and son Edward and Freddie Fox appear on stage, creating a ‘delicious double act’ as fictional father and son Lord Caversham and Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. Dubbed the ‘Fantastic Foxes’ by critics, Edward, the head of Britain’s acting dynasty is joined on the boards by his youngest son Fredrick in what was as much a life decision as a professional one.
“I’ve been offered to do Caversham again,” Edward said to Freddie. “I’ll do it if you do it” …and they both took a walk on the Wilde side. “It was such a wonderful opportunity and emotional to finally act with the old man,” said Freddie. Friends call them ‘Fredward’ and note that a large part of their relationship is verbal jousting, so the play is just an extension of that.
Fellow cast member France Barber told the Evening Standard, “You can see the respect they have for each other and they obviously love working together and enjoying each other… it’s just absolutely joyous.”
Both Eddie and Freddie signed my sketch at the stage door last week.
British actor Nathaniel Parker’s latest West End role is Sir Robert Chiltern, a rising politician with a secret past in the ‘Rolls-Royce of English comedies’, in Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND at the Vaudeville Theatre.
Nathaniel was last seen on the London stage in THE HOUSE at the Garrick two years ago and prior to that in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s acclaimed stage adaption of Hilary Mantel’s Booker Prize-winning historical novel WOLF HALL and its sequel BRING UPTHE BODIES at the Aldwych Theatre before it transferred to the Winter gardens on Broadway with a title change WOLF HALL, PARTS 1 & 2 for American audiences. His memorable portrayal of King Henry VIII was recognised with both an Olivier and a Tony Award nomination. TV viewers will be familiar with Nathaniel’s lead role in the BBC crime drama series THE INSPECTOR LYNLEY MYSTERIES and as Lord Agravaine in MERLIN.
Nathaniel signed my sketch for me when he arrived at Vaudeville Theatre stage door on Saturday.
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.
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.
Award-winning English actress Rosalie Craig is noted for her musical theatre performances, collecting an Evening Standard Award and an Olivier nomination for her role in the National Theatre’s A LIGHT PRINCESS in 2013.
However her last West End appearance as Caitlin Carney was far more dramatic, joining the final cast of Jez Butterworth’s acclaimed new play THE FERRYMAN, about a family living in rural Ireland during the Troubles in the 80’s, which completed its extended run on 19 May at the Gielgud Theatre. It’s a venue that Rosalie will get to know well by the end of the year, returning to the theatre with Patti LuPone in Stephen Sondheim’s COMPANY in September.
I left this Caitlin sketch for Rosalie at the Gielgud, which she signed and returned this week.
“Whirlwind Turner tribute leaves you breathless. Phyllida Lloyd’s musical is a heady celebration of triumphs over adversity, with an astonishing turn by Adrienne Warren,” wrote Michael Billington in his four-star review of TINA:THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL, which opened at London’s Aldwych Theatre with its World Premiere last month.
Matt Wolf in the New York Times said, ” She sings with the feral, unchanged yearning that does the show’s namesake proud.”
The 31 year-old American actress, singer and dancer was hand picked by Tina herself to make her West End debut, although she is well-known Stateside. Adrienne first performed on Broadway in BRING IT ON at the St James Theatre in 2012 before earning a Tony nomination for… wait for it, SHUFFLE ALONG OR THE MAKING OF THE MUSICAL SENSATION OF 1921 AND ALL THAT FOLLOWS at the Music Box Theatre.
Her screen appearances include the hit TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK. Rarely off stage in TINA, her performance as the Motown legend in the new ‘jukebox juggernaut’ had the critics searching for superlatives, but Ann Treneman of the Times said “simply the best.” Adrienne signed my sketch at the Aldwych Theatre last week.