Monday, 4 March 2019

Sir Ian McKellen at 80

Sir Ian McKellen turns 80 this year, and to celebrate,he is doing a  one-man show, touring to 80 theatres. up and down the country. The first outside London was Bristol Old Vic.  So naturally I booked tickets, and on Tuesday night my friend A and I went to see him.  And, er, then on Wednesday night I went again....

Stage in darkness, in foreground , a table with Gandalf's wizards hat, a directors chair, and a large cardboard crate decorated with stickers
The Stage, at half time. Spot Glamdring.. 

The show opens with music from LoTR,  with McKellen reading  from The Fellowship of the Ring,  the scene with Gandalf and the Blarog, after which he pulls out Glamdring and invites a young member of the audience to inspect and wiled it..  

The rest of the first half of the evening involves a roughly chronological whistle-stop tour of Sir Ian's life, talking about his early experience the  theatre, at school and university, his decision to become an actor and early experience, and about coming out ( motivated, in part, at his anger about Section 28), being knighted, (and  having his name mispronounced)

Then the second half was all Shakespeare... audience participation to name all of the plays, with anecdotes and excerpts from a chosen selection, meaning we got to hear The Seven Ages of Man, Fear no more the heat of the sun, from Cymbeline, Justice Shallow's reminiscences from Henry VI, the Rogue and Peasant Slave speech from Hamlet, the balcony seat from Romeo & Juliet, several bits from McBeth,  Aufidius's welcome to Coriolanus, - one evening we had Once More Unto the Breach! from Henry V, and the other, the Hollow Crown speech from Richard II, and both evenings finishing with the Our revels now are ended from The Tempest. 

It was glorious! 

And afterwards, he came out to the foyer to collect money for charity (Each theatre gets to chose which charities get the profits from the evening, and from McKellen's bucket-shaking - at Bristol, it was to be for a theatre group for people with disabilities , and for a fund which supports  students from the Old Vic theatre school in gaining professional experience.    

Ian McKellen after the show

I would up tired, after two mid-week nights out, but I regret nothing (well, maybe the fact that we were up in the gods for the first performance, where the seating, while way less uncomfortable than the narrow bench seats I remember from when I saw my first Hamlet there, back in 1991, was still rather cramped!)

I think the rest of the tour is mostly sold out, but he has been adding some extra dates, so if you get a chance to go, take it! 

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