The third in a series of stage door fan encounters.
This is my final post on the actors that I met during my trip to London in March, 2005. (Don’t worry, there are plenty more stage door encounters coming from other trips!) It’s a little different this time, because it’s about an actor who isn’t well known in the United States. You probably don’t know his name, but you should. Seeing him perform, and meeting him at the stage door, thrilled me every bit as much as seeing James McAvoy and Richard Coyle. His name is Simon Trinder.
I saw him first in The Dog in The Manger by Lope De Vega, one of three plays from the Spanish Golden Age performed in repertory by the RSC. It was a surprisingly funny play featuring fickle aristocrats, scheming servants, shifting alliances, romantic trysts and wrenching betrayals. Simon Trinder played Tristan, the wily servant to Teodoro, and he grabbed my attention with his energetic first entrance. By curtain call, I was a fan. He was short, bandy-legged, and bald—not the type of guy who usually steals my heart. I loved his energy, and he was funny. Reviewers agreed, including Steve Orme: “The show is almost stolen by Simon Trinder, Teodoro’s apparently duplicitous servant Tristan. Trinder was a big success with the RSC last year and is turning into a terrific comic actor. Expectations are always high when you see his name on a cast list.”
Wanting to see Trinder perform again, I looked into the other two plays of the season. Unfortunately, House of Desires had no more performances during my trip dates. Trinder got to dress in drag for that one, so I was sorry to miss that. I did get to see Pedro, The Great Pretender by Cervantes. Trinder was part of the ensemble, taking on lots of different roles. What I remember most about the play was watching him feed grapes to another actor on the edge of stage, while the main action was happening elsewhere. I suppose I should have been paying attention to the rest of show, but he was really hypnotizing me with those grapes.
As the end of my trip approached, I couldn’t help myself, so I got another ticket to The Dog in The Manger at the half-price ticket booth. I didn’t regret it, because this particular performance wasn’t well-attended and needed a bigger audience. I was already seated when Ian McKellen came down my row, looking for his seat. I was too stunned to do anything except stare. He ended up sitting a few rows over, out of my line of sight. That was a good thing, because it would have been distracting. During the intermission, I watched a young American woman approach McKellen to gush about Lord of The Rings. He cringed and looked horrified. He went outside with his group of friends, and then they left before the second half. I felt bad for the actors, but I doubt that McKellen’s departure was a comment on the production. Maybe he was just hungry.
I went to the stage door to meet the cast after my first time seeing Manger. Everyone was really friendly, and I asked Simon Trinder if I could photograph him under his poster on the side of the theatre. He was agreeable, and he even asked me if I wanted to be in it. I hate being in front of the camera, so I declined. The last time I saw him perform, I gave Trinder a little bag of goodies. It was nothing extravagant, just some chocolate and a couple of books, along with my card.
As soon as I got home, I set up a Google News Alert for him, so I could at least follow his career and read his reviews. He’s been very busy over the years, playing a variety of interesting roles. He even played the dog Snowy in a stage production of Tintin. He’s been teaching, too. I really want him to do more film and TV, so I can see him perform again. He has done a few things, but so far his film work is not available in the United States. At least there is an interview with him on YouTube, as well as a brief trailer from a stage production of Arabian Nights.
The best surprise came a year after my trip to London. I probably shouldn’t even mention it, because I don’t want to make anyone envious. Simon Trinder sent me a lovely letter. He apologized for not writing sooner, and he thanked me for my little bag of goodies. It’s a delightful note, written with the same enthusiasm and energy that he brings to the stage.