Q&A with Don Juan in Soho’s Adrian Scarborough

Olivier award-winning actor, Adrian Scarborough is back on stage for the first time since his role as the Fool in the National’s 2014 production of King Lear. He is appearing along-side David Tennant in Patrick Marber’s acclaimed Don Juan in Soho at the Wyndham’s Theatre. Read on to find out what it’s like performing at the Wyndham’s and what David Tennant means by ‘squeaky bum time.’
HF: Don Juan is loosely based on a Moliere tragicomedy, another of which is currently on stage just down the road. What is it about Moliere’s work that is still relevant to today’s audiences?

AS: Moliere was wise enough to know that longevity in the theatre was best achieved by using universal themes for all his plays, and that satire and comedy make for a great night out.
HF: You are part of a strong company of accomplished actors. How has it been performing with everyone?

AS: My breath is continually taken away by the unbelievable talents of our company. They sing in four-part harmony, they dance like the funkiest of dudes, and they can really act. They also know how to laugh and twinkle and have fun in order to make every show a unique treat. They are the finest of players.
HF: Patrick Marber is directing this production and has adapted the text. Is working on a show different with the writer sat in the room?

AS: Having access to the writer in rehearsal is a glorious blessing, particularly when the play is as modern and topical as this is. Patrick is crafting lines from all the news headlines on a daily basis to keep us satirically relevant. It’s a thrilling rollercoaster, the audiences love it.
HF: You are known to many for some great comedy roles, on film, TV and in the theatre. How does it feel to take on another comic character?

AS: I haven’t been on stage for three years so it’s been a scary few weeks getting back into the swing of live performance. David Tennant calls it “Squeaky bum time”!  I love the character of Stan very dearly. He’s a true romantic who sees the best in everyone, an eternal optimist, who has become jaded by his association with Don Juan. As I near 50 I can empathise with a lot of that!
HF: How did you come to choose theatre as a profession?

AS: It sort of chose me. I was so terrible at everything else, that I only had one viable option! Mercifully it’s sort of worked out.
HF:  The Wyndham’s has a history of great theatre work. How does it feel to be treading the boards of this esteemed venue?

AS: I think the Wyndham’s is the theatre every actor wants to play. It’s right there in the heart of Theatreland with a history that beggars belief. Tallulah Bankhead, The Boyfriend, Joan Littlewood’s company, Pinter’s No Man’s Land, Side By Side By Sondheim, Albee’s Three Tall Women, Sunday In The Park With George. It’s awash with the finest theatre ghosts. It’s also architecturally astonishing. There’s barely a duff seat in the house, even from the back of the balcony you can see the full height of the proscenium arch. It’s a joy to play.

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William Terriss: A 19th Century Murder In The West End

Dining on Maiden Lane, Just round the corner from Covent Garden and opposite the stage doors to the Vaudeville and Adelphi theatres, I am surrounded by a wealth of cultural heritage.

A contemporary of Henry Irving, actor William Terriss was a renowned and respected actor of the late 19th century, the plaque recalls that he was popular in the Adelphi farces. It appears that an out of work actor, by the name of Richard Archer Price, had a minor beef with Terriss due to the latter arranging for Price to be removed from a production. Price had struggled financially and had become more and more dependent on alcohol which affected his ability to work and lead to his dismissal. One evening in 1897, Price was waiting for Terriss to arrive at the theatre where he then proceeded to stab the unfortunate Terriss to death.

It is a story which fits well into its time, akin to that of the pennydreadfuls and the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes. I discovered this story through the plaque on the wall, simply by wandering around Theatreland looking at what’s about. I wonder what other stories there are to be discovered while having a spot of lunch.

Incidentally, if you happen to visit either the Adelphi Theatre to see the stage on which Terriss performed or you pass through Covent Garden tube station, be sure to look out for the late actor. In both of these locations, the ghost of William Terriss has been sighted.

Nearby is the former home of actor David Garrick, the house of nineteenth century artist Turner lies round the corner, St Paul’s, the actors church immortalised in the opening scene of George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, is a stone throw away but it’s a plaque on the wall of the Adelphi, now home to Kinky Boots, which has caught my attention. The small yet intriguing plaque marks the scene of a murder right outside the stage door.

A contemporary of Henry Irving, actor William Terriss was a renowned and respected actor of the late 19th century, the plaque recalls that he was popular in the Adelphi farces. It appears that an out of work actor, by the name of Richard Archer Price, had a minor beef with Terriss due to the latter arranging for Price to be removed from a production. Price had struggled financially and had become more and more dependent on alcohol which affected his ability to work and lead to his dismissal. One evening in 1897, Price was waiting for Terriss to arrive at the theatre where he then proceeded to stab the unfortunate Terriss to death.

It is a story which fits well into its time, akin to that of the pennydreadfuls and the Victorian London of Sherlock Holmes. I discovered this story through the plaque on the wall, simply by wandering around Theatreland looking at what’s about. I wonder what other stories there are to be discovered while having a spot of lunch.

Incidentally, if you happen to visit either the Adelphi Theatre to see the stage on which Terriss performed or you pass through Covent Garden tube station, be sure to look out for the late actor. In both of these locations, the ghost of William Terriss has been sighted.

REVIEW: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? ” Staunton and Hill are perfection. . .”

Edward Albee’s Tony award-winning play has received a much talked about revival just months after his death in September 2016. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf famously missed out on the Pulitzer Prize for 1963 after the board objected to its sexual references and profanities; this lead to no prize being awarded that year.

This production is directed by James Macdonald and boasts a cast of Imelda Staunton, Conleth Hill, Luke Treadaway and Imogen Poots, with an impressive five Oliviers between them. Such a pedigree of talent ensures that the production is in safe hands and is a fitting tribute to the late Albee, showing his mastery of his craft.

The play centres around a married couple, George and Martha, caught up in a war of attrition. The conflict has been raging for over 20 years and their relationship is steeped in bitterness, regret but also symbiosis. The play takes place in the early hours of the morning after a party on a University campus where George works and Martha is the daughter of the President of the college.

Into the mix of this hard-drinking couple comes an unsuspecting younger couple, Nick and Honey, at the start of their lives and careers. They have agreed to join George and Martha for a drink and soon get caught in the crossfire. Perhaps George and Martha can see themselves in the optimistic youths: the aspirations they never fulfilled, the potential never quite realised.  This pushes the argument further and the tragedies of their lives are soon put on display.

The play is intense to watch, taking the audience along on a journey filled with fun and laughter but also anger, violence, and hatred. The dynamics of the play are such that the audience seldom has the opportunity to sit back and relax but are constantly having their emotions tossed around, drawing them into the living room where the battle plays on.

Staunton and Hill are perfection in their roles. Well balanced and complimentary to each other’s performances, they provide a foil for the other to work off which they do so brilliantly. The relationship between the two has ensured that this production feels fresh, their verbal sparring sparking with electricity.

It has just been announced that the production will be broadcast to cinemas in May, giving a wider audience the opportunity to see this landmark production. If you are unable to get a ticket for the London run, go and see this modern classic in your local cinema and enjoy the performances of two of our finest actors.