Rosalind and Brian Blessed: 'There is no one better at shouting than Brian!'
Daughter and father touch on two shows currently running, mental health and growing up in the Blessed household
Rosalind Blessed, daughter of Brian, has two new plays – The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People and Lullabies for the Lost – currently playing at Old Red Lion theatre. Despite their dark subject matter, the actor and writer is feeling very positive about collaborating with her father once again. Hildegard Neil, Rosalind's mother, is a cast member for Lullabies as well, so along with Brian acting as executive producer, this is very much a family affair.
We had a chat with Rosalind and Brian about their hopes for the plays and how the subject matter is exceedingly relevant for both themselves and society at this moment in time.
Both productions have started, how have things been going?
Rosalind Blessed: It has been incredibly gratifying and really good fun. The great thing about the Old Red Lion theatre is that it's very intimate, so you can really feel the audience. Considering the subject matter is heavy and personal, you might think the experience could be exhausting or upsetting but it actually works in reverse. I have found performing to be really cathartic.
Are you hoping the plays will have a similar effect on the audience?
RB: Definitely. The plays are not only humorous but also brutally honest, so I am really praying that they enable people to open up and talk about their struggles. I want the work to start a dialogue as well as being entertaining for audiences.
Brian Blessed: I do not mean to sound like a prophet of doom but these are quite terrifying days. Even the most physically fit among us are coming out and saying that they are having a rough time which is why I am so glad that Rosalind is covering the subject matter she is. At the moment it is very important that people join hands, help each other and be compassionate.
How has it been working together on these projects?
RB: We have previously collaborated as a family and I always enjoy the process. Dad came along to one of the early readings for Lullabies for the Lost, when it was in its baby stages. He has experienced mental health problems himself and with his mother so it is a subject he understands and the play chimed with him. When I was younger I tried to keep myself removed from my father professionally but these days it is more important that people hear about this subject matter than my ego. No one shouts better than Brian Blessed so let him do it!
BB: When I was younger my mother had a total nervous breakdown due to injuries that my father suffered working down in the mines. As a young boy of maybe 11 or 12 I had to go with her to the hospital in place of my father and support her during electrical treatment. She recovered but it was awful to see. It is a very serious subject but thankfully nowadays treatment is much more sophisticated.
Was it a creative household growing up?
BB: Ours was a very artistic home but there were also lots of animals. My wife Hildegard (Hildegard Neil, starring in Lullabies for the Lost) is as mad as I am and we have always looked after animals, from leopards to donkeys. Rosalind was brought up with animals and it is clear that along with drama they are one of her great loves.
RB: It was always a wonderfully creative household and I was very lucky to be able to come home and speak to my parents and we all knew what we were on about. Dad is so supportive and my mum has been my acting inspiration since I was very small. She is an astounding actress so to have her saying my words is an absolute honour.
Lullabies for the Lost and The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People run at Old Red Lion Theatre until 31 January and 1 February respectively