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Genial companion though he is, it’s difficult to see whom Roger Rees’s diverting one man show is aimed at.

Is it those who remember his early theatrical career with the Royal Shakespeare Company back in the 70s and 80s when (having been a silent spear carrier alongside Ben Kingsley for several seasons) he eventually graduated to playing the title roles in both Hamlet and The Life and Times of Nicholas Nickleby?

Or a younger audience who’ll recognise him from Cheers, Grey’s Anatomy or The West Wing but knows little or nothing of his long-standing relationship with Shakespeare?

With his still full head of hair and slight frame he looks younger than his 68 years, and his impish grin begs you to like him as, dressed in head to toe grey, he walks on stage clutching a large white bust of the Bard who provides the link between the ensuing 90 minutes of extracts, memories, criticisms and anecdotes.

Strung together as haphazardly as the background stage paraphernalia, some prove more enlightening than others.

Expertly delivered though they are, monologues from Hamlet and Macbeth surely don’t need yet another out-of-context airing - though Rees rings the changes by donning a baseball cap to play the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet and remind us that, when first performed, it would indeed have been “an old codger” like him who would have taken the role.

There’s a scattering of schoolboy howlers, presumably gleaned from the internet, incidents from his early days in Stratford-upon-Avon plus Thurber’s amusing analysis of Macbeth as a whodunit.

The material would, perhaps, be more suitable as an after dinner entertainment – but one can’t help but wish well the still boyish Rees (now a US resident of several decades standing)  during his short visit back to the theatre where he first auditioned for the RSC in 1965.

Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EZ
Tube | Piccadilly Circus
Until 6 October £15 - £37.50
what-you-will.com


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What You Will theatre review: Apollo Theatre, West End
Digital Mag

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