Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:07 AM
I was slightly surprised that, in the light of the "actors playing minor roles in Hamlet and Macbeth write about their time at the RSC" books published of late, the RSC hadn't published this. It's an account of the McKellen Lear/Seagull, from the perspective of the actor who was playing Gentleman in Lear and covering Sir Ian. Upon reading it, I can see why the RSC hasn't published it: it's bitchy, bitter and opinionated, as though Nicholas Craig (Nigel Planer's aging actor who once shared a few lines with Olivier) had teamed up with Chips Channon to settle old scores, with advice from Mr Pooter. Sylvester McCoy's spoons are boring and if they cut those they wouldn't have to cut the author's lines. The Courtyard is fundamentally flawed and the old main house was perfect. The oven in his RSC flat is dirty. The women in Stratford aren't as attractive as they were in 1967 when he bedded Peter Hall's nanny. IKEA isn't very nice. Young actresses in the ensemble aren't interested in him. The Dirty Duck isn't what it was. Olivier's filmed Lear isn't very good. John Barton is quite old. Cis Berry isn't very interesting. Voice coaching and warmups are a waste of time for the experienced actor. Nick Hytner isn't all that. Alan Rickman isn't all that. Romola Garai is all that, but isn't interested. The constant thudding noise as you read is the sound of names being dropped.
All that said, it's great. It's fantastically indiscreet, and although at times you think it's an artful spoof a la Nicholas Craig (whom you can imagine doing the audio-book) it makes a change from the constant "all my lovely colleagues who are lovely" of the official line. Weston has made a long career without having hit the heights, which is an achievement in itself (as he points out, most of his contemporaries have left acting), writes well and if he's a bit Pooterish, well, what of it? Well worth reading, and well worth nine of your earth pounds.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:33 AM
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:43 AM
rather Freudian typo
And who could see that the road would twist
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:45 AM
To be honest I did find it very depressing towards the end. It's to his credit as a writer, though, that he captures so accurately the horrible feeling of working with (what he perceives to be) horrendous people. It's rare to hear people being so frank about their colleagues in this sort of situation - at one point he admits to feeling a little schadenfreude when Romola Garai (who he really doesn't like) got a bad review somewhere on the tour.
Some of the anecdotes are funny in a surreal sort of way - Gerald Kyd on a long-haul flight sitting in embarrassed silence next to the girlfriend he'd broken up with mid-tour, because they'd booked the flights and seats ages ago when they were still together. Also I'll admit I'm curious to know what his wife thinks of being described as a fag-hag.
On a pointlessly-personal level, I was happy that one of my favourite actors - John Heffernan - came across very well in the book, until near the end anyway, when Weston basically just lets rip at everyone for everything.
I don't think they did, actually - it's all like that!
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:54 AM
Oh this sounds splendid, I must order my copy immediately. Even the title is excellent (for those who like Carry On humour and are familiar with horse racing terminology).
Posted 30 August 2011 - 10:59 AM
I honestly feel he was getting rather unhinged towards the end of the book. It's fair enough, he has been touring the world with the same hugely dysfunctional company for a year by that point, and if it was as bad as he made out, anyone would unhinge a little. But still. I'm glad I borrowed rather than bought this one.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:02 AM
Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:41 AM
The scene in which he arranges copies of a twenty-year old audio documentary he did about the RSC and gives them to all the actors, especially the younger ones who "may find it interesting", is priceless.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 12:39 PM
Quite sure, but I wish I had - it looks like the publishing event of the century and an instant cult classic:
"Trevor and Ian have decided that Lear will literally follow the meaning of unaccommodated man and strip naked in the storm. Ian Holm did it at the National and so did David Warner at Chichester. David, I remember, was remarkably well-endowed. I suppose Ill have to show my all in the understudy rehearsals but they cant expect that much from an old man."
Anyway, I mustn't skip forward, let me start at Page 1.
Posted 30 August 2011 - 05:54 PM
Probably forgotten their names.
Maybe. My expectations would be pretty low, though.
But to find a mother younger than her son is very curious,
And that's the kind of mother that is usually spurious.
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