Category Archives: Acting

Stop Press – London Assurance Extension

A short sweet note to say that after the aforementioned ‘money review’ in the Wall Street Journal by Terry Teachout, our initial run of London Assurance has sold out.

We’ve extended for two weeks. Performances from 01/29 thru 02/09. Tickets are going fast…

 

The Power of the Press

I’ve been posting too frequently lately. After this update. I shall resume a sedate once-a-month-if-that routine. It’s the bushfires in Australia that have me so riled. A national emergency and an international crisis – anyway enough of that and plenty of my opinion in previous posts.

Meanwhile…

The astonishing power of a good review in a major newspaper…!

Elliot-Joseph-Evan-Zes-Ian-Holcomb-Brian-Keane-Colin-McPhillamy-and-Caroline-Strang-in-the-2019-production-of-LONDON-ASSURANCE-at-Irish-Rep-Photo-by-Carol-Rosegg-1024x683 2.jpg

From left to right: Those splendid actors Elliot Joseph, Evan Zes, Ian Holcomb, Brian Keane, Caroline Strang, and some portly bloke down right in the frame… photo by Carol Rosegg. 

We opened on the 15th December to some frankly glowing feedback from (in my opinion) a group of enlightened, perceptive, life-affirming critics in several publications and blogs of the greater NYC area. Except the mighty New York Times, where the opinion was at best mildly positive, but not enough to make you want to mash your smartphone and get on to the box office at the Irish Rep 212 727 2737

Rachel-Pickup-and-Colin-McPhillamy-in-the-2019-production-of-LONDON-ASSURANCE-at-Irish-Rep-Photo-by-Carol-Rosegg-1024x683-1.jpg

The wonderful Rachel Pickup and, quoting from the New York Theatre Guide: “Colin McPhillamy … He plays it all for fun even launching his considerable girth in surprising leaps that recall a vaudevillian’s trick.”

Consequently our business was a very respectable 80% to 90%, nice, but with comedy it’s even nicer when you can’t get a seat.

Then…

Almost two weeks later Terry Teachout published his review in the Wall Street Journal. A rave. Sidebar: the WSJ may require you to subscribe to access the full review, my recommendation is just to come and see the show instead!

The phones began to ring off the hook. We are now almost sold out for the rest of the run. We’re due to close 01/26 and if you did plan to see the show, please organize a ticket before they put up the HOUSE FULL signs!

Happy New Year!

 

 

A Monologue You Will Never Hear

Happy New Year!

Among the many monologues you will never hear, we include this from the (Australian/American/British) – fill in the gap – (Prime Minister/President/Almost all senior officials) in public address.

“My fellow (Australians/Americans/Britons ) the time has come to admit that we have completely fucked it up. Our politics are uselessly toxic, and we are destroying the Earth.

Devastating and deadly floods and fires are on the increase the world over. We are now forced to confront what environmentalists have been attempting to bring to notice for more than fifty years. We of the ruling classes have hitherto chosen to distort, deny, delay, obfuscate, ridicule and in every way ignore the responsible warnings of scientists, conservationists and concerned citizens.

Beyond this, we have filled the airwaves with unending speeches of self-congratulatory lies and international xenophobic aggression while we knowingly continued to allow massive pollution and environmental degradation on all fronts, to the extent that the seas are dying and our food is toxic. We did this even when, especially when, feasible solutions were offered to us.

We in government have all had a complete change of heart. This is due to an outbreak of Common Sense, and we are now taking immediate action. Our measures will include:

Creation and distribution of 100% clean energy from wind, wave, solar, geo-thermal.

We realize this initiative will be met with resistance, in the aforementioned form of; distortion, denial, delay, obfuscation, and ignorance.

And lots of anger.

Why?

Because:

“Hell hath no fury like a vested interest masquerading as a moral principle.”

Middle-aged white men in positions of power who find themselves so enraged are referred to:

It merely remains for me to thank you for listening, I acknowledge that we never did that, and my resignation takes place with immediate effect.

Happy New Year.”

Australia is on Fire

Australia is on fire.

It probably is a good idea to know about it. Why so? Because if nothing is done, the equivalent will happen here, wherever that happens to be…

In the absence of any detailed reporting apart from the usual sound bite/video clip sensational pictures of walls of flame, social media is the best source of information.

#AustraliaFires

This astonishing kid is motivating millions of people.

@GretaThunberg

Which is a good thing because there’s plenty of this…

#climatechangedenial

There was a time when doctors would advise people to smoke cigarettes. They don’t do that any more do they?

The world needs to give up smoking.

 

 

London Assurance at The Irish Rep

From a theatre history point of view London Assurance is unique. Dion Boucicault wrote it in three weeks in 1841. He was twenty. Some sources give his age as eighteen at the time.

That’s me sliding into character in the dressing room

The human Dionysus Boucicault captured some of the Dionysian spirit and poured it in this soufflé of a play. A piece which might also be called a keggeree, or a bubble-and-squeek. There are multiple overt and inferred Shakespearean references and themes, not to mention the derivation from Restoration and Carolinian drama generally. But then, if you were twenty (or eighteen) and had three weeks to write a play what would you do?

With the incomparably fabulous Rachel Pickup in rehearsal

Such derivative literary technique is time-honored of course. Shakespeare never bothered with an original plot as is well known, and looking forward through the 1800s, Oscar Wilde and Brandon Thomas evince traces of Boucicault – certainly Noel Coward in the 20th century took a minor character from London Assurance and made him famous as “Sollox” in Private Lives.

And the same moment, or just before, in performance

It’s always a vexed question for an actor as to whether to read reviews when the play opens. On this occasion I did. The press… well you can see for yourself at http://www.irishrep.org

Kudos to my fellow cast members, to numerous to list here but again, details at http://www.irishrep.org. Each of the actors I’m privileged to work with on this one, brings a lively inventiveness and vivid reality, helmed by the ever-creative Charlotte Moore, founder member of the Irish Rep, which translates to a sublime couple of hours in the theatre – Geez, I’m writing my own review here – reminds me of the famous dialogue between Anthony Sher when he played Richard III and Michael Caine who saw a performance.

Caine: And what about those reviews?!

Sher: Oh, I don’t read reviews.

Caine: Read ’em! You fuckin’ wrote ’em, didn’t you?

I am delighted to report that the show is selling well, we play thru January 26th 2020. The play among other things is an entertainment-antidote to the current state of world affairs, and I am able to write the time-honored marketing phrase, “Book now to avoid disappointment.” And just in case you missed it: London Assurance, directed by Charlotte Moore, tickets at http://www.irishrep.org

 

Casting Call forGreta

We also have governance by denial.

Only when the last tree has died, the last river has been poisoned and the last fish has been caught, will we realize that we cannot eat money.” Attributed Native American saying.

What is this frustrated-green-rant doing in a blog about acting? – Scroll down for answer.

Greta Thunberg – the heroine of our times

The solutions are there

The Biggest Little Farm They brought the soil back to life

Wilding This is a technically dense account of returning the land to nature

The Man Who Planted Trees A novel by Jean Giono

Australia is burning, the oceans are dying, the ice is melting, plastic particles too small to see clog soil, water and now air, earlier this year California was up in smoke as was the Amazon.

What will it take for those who govern to wake up? What do oil and coal execs imagine, that they will be living in just the right places unaffected by the coming catastrophe?

It would be good if there was an outbreak of responsible action amongst those in power, because recycling our plastic packaging at home is probably not going to do it.

And why does some actor that you’ve never heard of post a splenetic piece like this?

Well I bet you a dollar that the honchos who run Hollywood are even now considering who will play Greta Thunberg in the movie. Maybe I could play some 70s/80s/90s/2000s politician who knew but did nothing…

And the movie will gross what it does and the planet will continue to turn and the Sun to rise. But will anyone in power do anything meaningful…?

Nicely Busy

That young actress Patricia Conolly is back on Broadway, she gave her first performance as Mrs Debose yesterday in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD with the new cast at the Shubert Theatre with Ed Harris now playing Atticus Finch. Tickets are available at mind-numbing Broadway rates.

I haven’t seen the show yet, but judging by the audience response as I heard the last few lines of the play from the stage door, it sounds as if the price of admission might be justified. Understand that I say this as one whose first theatre-going set me back about 30 pence (50 cents), not the mortgage it takes today.

Meanwhile, in another part of the forest, or as we say here in NYC, Off-Broadway, I am rehearsing LONDON ASSURANCE at The Irish Rep. I’m playing Sir Harcourt Courtly a character descended from a long line of fops. There’s a puff piece here where you’ll also see a picture of the wonderful Rachel Pickup playing the unforgettably-named, Lady Gay Spanker.

That’s Simon Russell Beale in the 2010 National Theatre production.

Sir Harcourt Courtly has been personated by such giants of the stage as Donald Sinden in the legendary 1970, West End and Broadway production, and Brian Bedford 1997, Broadway and Stratford Ontario 2006.

I worked with Brian Bedford twice. He was a master at light comedy. One time I backed him into a corner and asked him to tell me his secrets, “Brian!” I said, “How do you do it!?! I have to know!” Brian gave it a little thought in that slightly puzzled quizzical manner which was one of his comic modes and finally said, modestly, “Well I don’t really know.” He did know of course, but in common with others of unusual ability, he knew it wasn’t a thing to be discussed. Why? Because that’s not what it’s for. And nothing lets the steam out of the bottle before the soufflé rises so surely as casual talk – so I had to be satisfied by just watching him. Which I did. But if Brian wishes to whisper any tips to me now that he’s playing the great stages in the sky, he’s more than welcome.

Tix at the Rep will set you back a manageable amount and they are available here. It’s a holiday show. We open December and play through January and I hear there’s a nice advance, so please book soon if you plan to come.

A big shout out to two colleagues of Irish Rep fame, Mick Mellamphy and Tim Ruddy, two of the lads who were also in THE SEAFARER with me, Andy Murray and Matthew Broderick at The Rep a couple of years back.

Matthew Broderick and Andy Murray in The Seafarer at the Irish Rep 2017

Mick performs and Tim directs THE CURE, tix here, and for the price of a couple of pints. It’s bare bones, storytelling magic at its best. Mick turns in a virtuoso performance with nothing much behind him in terms of set. Doesn’t matter, not needed.

He takes you to Cork and back.