Michael Brandon On ... His Stage Return in Wet WeatherDate: 21 January 2010
Michael Brandon is currently appearing alongside Steve Furst in Oliver Cotton’s debut play Wet Weather Cover, which opens at the King's Head on 28 January 2010 (previews from 20 January).
Wet Weather Cover is an unusual piece but it's also very true. In terms of synopsis, all I can really say is that there are two actors, in Spain, in a caravan, and it's absolutely pissing down! The title comes from the term for footage that you film during an outdoor shoot when the weather is inclement, something that never ceases to amaze me on film sets. You're sitting there in a trailer and it's pouring it down and suddenly someone knocks on the door and says "oh, we're ready". I'm always like, "ready for what?!".
The script rang so many bells for me – it was almost like the writer had been hiding in the closet of my trailer when I did Dempsey and Makepeace. And it's very good on the differences between English and American actors; the process, the way we work, the way we learn our lines, our familiarity with films and the rest of it. It's very accurately observed.
They've actually managed to get an entire caravan onto the King's Head stage, which is an incredible feat of logistics. It certainly takes me back to my filming days. In terms of acting trailers, I've seen it all, from enormous luxurious motorhomes down to honeywagons (the portaloos used on film sets). I once shared a honeywagon with Charlie Durning and we couldn't even get in and out of it – one always had to be sitting for the other one to be able to move!
Wet Weather Cover is just so well-written, especially considering it's Oliver's debut piece. In truth I've never spoken this many words in a play – it's meaty, but yet it really flows. And it's very witty; I think it's going to be quite long because we'll be pausing for all the laughs. It's also rewarding being able to create a character for the first time – I saw the published version the other day, which had my name in there as an original cast member, and was a very proud moment.
Steve (Furst) is great. My son worships him from the Orange commercials and he was so excited when I told him I was doing a play - he wants to see it just to see Steve! We've got a simpatico connection, even though I suspect he's slightly better at learning his lines. It's a two-hander with a dash of brilliance added by Pepe Balderrama, who plays my dresser. If you speak Spanish, there's a whole other element of the play you can enjoy. Our director Kate (Fahy) is also doing great work, and she, like Steve, is making her debut - so the production has a great energy to it.
I suppose to many theatregoers in this country I'm associated with Jerry Springer. I have such fond memories of my involvement in that, and it was very brave of Nicholas Hytner to open his tenure at the National with it. There was nothing like that around at the time, and there hasn't really been anything like it since.
It's obviously quite a change of scale working now in the King's Head. When I turned up on my first day and asked where my dressing room was they laughed! That said though, I cut my teeth as an actor doing dinner theatre, where audience members would often try and place orders halfway through a soliloquy. So I'm more than used to 'intimate' spaces. I hope people will enjoy it – it's got all the elements, I think it can definitely have a life after the King's Head. I reckon this caravan's got wheels...
Wet Weather Cover continues at the King's Head until 21 February 2010.