One of Britain’s leading stage actors, Dominic Rowan has added the critically acclaimed THE JUNGLE to his already extensive list of credits, which is matched by his TV work, including his role as CPS prosecutor Jacob Thorne in the ITV crime drama LAW AND ORDER: UK.
He joined the cast of THE JUNGLE, the immersive play about the now-bulldozed migrant camp in Calais, after its sell-out run at Young Vic over the winter, when the production transferred to The Playhouse Theatre in June. Dominic plays Derek, an idealistic, somewhat self-important seasoned charity worker. He will stay with the show after it completes its West End run next month and shifts camp stateside to New York.
Dominic has kindly signed a number of my sketches at various stage doors over the years. He did this ‘Derek’ drawing for me a few weeks ago as he arrived for a Saturday matinee.
“It’s not about refugees, it’s about humans,” said Syrian actor Ammar Haj Ahmad in a recent interview about the theatrical phenomenon, THE JUNGLE in which he stars and leads a multinational, multiethnic cast, vividly recreating the life in the sprawling makeshift camp called ‘the jungle’ in Calais on France’s northern coast, where thousands gathered from all corners of the world to escape war and terror, hoping to cross the English Channel and build a new life.
Ammar plays Safi, the main spokesperson for the Jungle’s inhabitants, who also functions in the play as the guide and chronicler. In 2011, Ammar was a cast member in a production of the Arabian classic ONE THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS, which completed its global tour in Edinburgh. His visa ran out, but the crisis back in this homeland had escalated to the point where he felt he could not return. He contacted the British Home Office to apply for asylum and the 36 year-old has not returned to Syria since.
The Broadway-bound National Theatre and Young Vic co-production with the playwrighters Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s Good Chance Theatre premiered at the Young Vic last November. Directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, it transferred across the river to the Embankment’s Playhouse Theatre earlier this year where it resides until 3 November before crossing a bigger stretch of water to New York.
The sell-out production received a powerful reaction. Audiences and critics were blown away. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish has called it “the most important play in the West End.” The immersive nature of the play, which transports everyone into the jungle itself is “an experience we do together- actors and audience,” said Ammar. “I am truly grateful to be part of theatre that makes a difference.”
I met Ammar at the stage door after a Saturday matinee a few weeks ago where he signed my sketch.
Hollywood stars Sienna Miller and Jack O’Connell are attracting the critics attention and West End audiences in the Young Vic production of Tennessee William’s simmering Southern drama CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the Apollo theatre.
“Benedict Andrews radical update of the classic delivers emotional intensity shot through with humour- and a blistering performance from Jack O’Connell”, wrote Michael Billington in the intro to his Guardian review. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish, who admitted he initially was going to write it off as a summer filler, saw the production and gave it four stars, adding, “Miller confirms she’s not just a pretty feline face… her Margaret is a hideously plausible portrait of a women putting on a grave face to hold back tears desolation.”
On a very wet Saturday lunchtime Sienna arrived at the stage door and signed for all who were waiting including my sketch, under the small covered doorway. Jack rides his bike, complete with helmet, so he flies in with no one recognising or stopping him. It took me a couple of return visits to figure this out, so last Saturday, when he did the same I managed to get his attention and his graph before he disappeared into the theatre and on stage for the matinee.
Critics are unanimous about Juliet Stevenson’s latest stage incarnation in Samuel Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS at the Young Vic. Playing Winnie,a woman tragically aware of her mental plight, requires the actress to be buried in a mound of sand. Sarah Hemming of the Financial Times wrote, “Lear in the storm, Winnie in the sandheap: Two of the greatest stage metaphors for the human condition and two of the most challenging roles for an actor.” The Guardian’s Michael Billington said Juliet “gives a remarkable performance.” and Henry Hutchings of the Evening Standard adds, she “brings grace, poise and a crazed resilience to the incurably optimestic Winnie.” Extra performances have been added due to demand with the play finishing 8 March.