76 year old James Fox and 29 year old Jack (his youngest) as horse-racing correspondent Roger Mortimer and his wayward offspring Charlie, referred to as Lupin after a similarly disreputable literary character in “The Diary of a Nobody.”.
Mortimer senior, a former POW, died in 1991 but when the collection of letters they exchanged over a quarter of a century was published two decades later, the book climbed almost to the top of the Sunday Times best seller list.
Actor-turned-playwright Michael Simpkins’ adaptation for the stage fleshes out Charlie’s contribution and preserves the wry wit and humour of the upper crust Roger’s writing as he corresponds with an Eton educated son, incapable of sticking at anything for long, who embarked on a hedonistic career of drink and drugs which eventually landed him in rehab.
James Fox makes an engaging, very English Roger, fondly tolerant of behaviour of which he undoubtedly disapproved – and briefly playing a handful of other characters too. And although Jack isn’t always quite as convincing as permanent delinquent Charlie, it’s genuinely touching to follow their relationship as illness brings it to an inevitable end.
It won’t set the world alight, but there’s considerable undemanding pleasure to be had from Philip Franks’ affectionate production.
Apollo Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7EZ
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
until 19th September
£19.50- £49.50 (+ premium seats & £15 day seats)