I love to go to the theatre and then meet the actors at the stage door after the show. I’ve seen some great people perform here in San Francisco, where I live, and also on my trips to London and New York. I’ve decided to blog about some of my encounters with favorite actors, both onstage and off.
In March 2005, during a trip to London, I decided to see Schiller’s Don Carlos because Derek Jacobi was in the cast. How can you miss the opportunity to see Derek Jacobi act in a play, right? It was actually a tough choice, because Patrick Stewart was appearing right next door, and my time and money were limited. I’m not sure why March is such a charmed month for London theatre, but I think it’s because of the UK filming schedules. Some of the biggest film stars often appear in West End plays during this month, when there aren’t many tourists and travel is cheaper. The shows have short runs and the tickets are often sold out, but this time I got lucky.
I arrived at the theatre with barely enough time to find my seat, which was way up in the nosebleed section. The seats were so steeply raked that it gave me vertigo. I dug out my binoculars as the lights were dimming. Unfortunately, I forgot to turn off my cell phone, and it started ringing during the opening scene. Once I got over being hated by every single person in my section, I was able to enjoy the play.
It opened with Don Carlos sitting on the floor of a dark, gloomy set. The actor was Richard Coyle, and I was immediately taken with his rich, resonant voice. From my seat, I was pretty much looking down on the top of his curly head, so his voice was pretty crucial to my perception of his performance. I liked him more and more as the play progressed. Derek Jacobi and the rest of the cast were great, of course, but my attention was focused on Coyle. The play was a tragedy, so it didn’t end well for poor Don Carlos. I was disappointed when I looked up the historical Don Carlos later and found out that the Spanish prince was an inbred sociopath who probably deserved being imprisoned and poisoned, after he spent most of his young life beating girls and torturing animals. Ah, royalty.
The great thing about stage doors in London is that they’re usually not too crowded with fans. I waited at the stage door after Don Carlos with only a few other people, and they were hoping to meet Derek Jacobi. Now, I would have been delighted to meet him, but I’ve learned that the biggest stars don’t usually come out the stage door. This time my instincts were right. I did get to meet Richard Coyle, though, and he was friendly and just as attractive up close. He signed my program, and I told him I had just seen James McAvoy in a play. (They were in the TV movie Lorna Doone together.) Coyle said nice things about McAvoy and then dashed off.
When I returned home from my trip, I decided to see more of Richard Coyle’s work besides Lorna Doone. He’s best known for the British TV show Coupling, where for three series he portrayed mad Jeff Murdock, a breast-obsessed Welshman. The good news is that Netflix now has the entire series streaming, so I plan to watch it again. Coyle also starred in the brilliant but short-lived series Strange, about a defrocked Anglican priest who battles demons. I’m fortunate to have this series on a PAL video, sent to me by a generous British fellow, since it was never released on DVD. (Thanks, Mark!)
Once I get interested in an actor, I’m pretty loyal about following his career. Coyle was Prince Tus in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and he’s completed a film called W.E. which sounds really interesting. It’s about the affair between Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson, as well as a contemporary romance about a married woman and a Russian security guard. I’m waiting for the US to get Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, a miniseries starring Coyle that has already aired in the UK. Finally, I’m following the filming of Grabbers, a comedic horror movie currently being made in Donegal, Ireland. It’s about a small island village being invaded by tentacled sea creatures. The only way to stay alive is to stay drunk, because the creatures don’t like alcohol. One of the other stars is Russell Tovey, who plays the werewolf in the UK’s Being Human. Grabbers should be released in 2012, and I can’t wait! From doomed Spanish royalty to drunk Irishmen battling sea monsters, I will follow Richard Coyle wherever his career takes him.
Update: …except maybe here. Richard Coyle is now (March 2o11) shooting a horror movie in Scotland called Outpost: Black Sun. I can handle funny horror, but I’m not sure about this one!
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