In 2007, when the now 76 year old Edward Petherbridge arrived in New Zealand to play King Lear, he found himself instead half paralysed in a hotel room after suffering a stroke.
Not, one might think, the stuff of a warm, life-affirming entertainment, but that’s exactly what this evening of whimsy, anecdote and extracts from the Bard proves to be, never following a straight path if a roundabout one beckons.
Written in collaboration with Told By an Idiot’s multi-accented, many-wigged Paul Hunter (with whom he shares the tilted stage) and director Kathryn Hunter (who has herself played Lear) and drawing on his published memoir Slim Chances and Unscheduled Appearances, it will probably appeal most to those with a particular fondness for theatre.
But even if you know nothing about Shakespeare or Petherbridge’s thespian career, there’s much to enjoy in this fluid 90 minutes spent in the company of a veteran actor whose air of gentle vagueness belies his skills not only as a seasoned performer but (with a touch of the Rolf Harris’s) as a more than competent artist as well.
Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube | Southwark / Waterloo
Extended to 4th May
Photo: Manuel Harlan