Accused Archer Debuts at Haymarket, 5 DecDate: 8 September 2000
Former politician Jeffrey Archer will make his professional acting debut in December in a self-penned courtroom drama. The Accused opens at the Haymarket Theatre on 5 December 2000, following previews from 30 November.
In the interactive cliffhanger about a doctor charged with poisoning his wife, the audience decides each night how the trial and the play will end. Is Dr Sherwood a faithful husband or is he a ruthless, two-timing murderer? Once the audience casts its vote, the drama continues with one of two alternate endings.
Archer plays the defendant, Dr Sherwood. He is joined on stage by a distinguished cast including Edward Petherbridge, Tony Britton and Edward de Souza. The Accused is directed by Val May and produced by Lee Menzies.
Archer is infamous in the UK for his numerous political and financial scandals - and for his ability to bounce back from disaster by turning his hand to new things. His bid last year to become London's first mayor was derailed by the revelation that he had asked a friend to lie in court in his 1987 libel action against the Daily Star newspaper.
Archer first revealed his intention to take to the stage in March, during his first post-resignation interview. He told television interviewer Martin Bashir that he felt 'very apologetic and very broken' to give up his dream of becoming mayor. He said that he worked on the play script during that time to keep his mind off his troubles and drew on his own courtroom experiences. 'I was desperately fed up, very low, broken and the catharsis was getting up in the morning and trying to do something, trying to concentrate, trying to get one's mind off everything and put something down on paper, actually do something.'
Although Archer is a member of the actors' Equity union, he has never performed professionally. 'It's a new challenge,' he admitted. 'I've no doubt the critics will have their pencils sharpened long before they reach the theatre, but I've faced that every time in my life. Once again I will ask the public what they think.'
In addition to his political career, Archer has carved a lucrative niche for himself as a novelist. His best-selling thrillers include 'The Eleventh Commandment', 'First Among Equals' and 'The Prodigal's Daughter'. His previous plays include Beyond Reasonable Doubt and Exclusive.