WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Theatre Royal Haymarket
WHEN: 31/10 (matinee), runs to 23/1/16
Samuel Foote was an 18th century theatre manager/actor who may have won royal status for the venue in which this play is being staged yet also lost a leg in an accident but continued to tread the boards.
Actor and author Ian Kelly’s biography of Foote, Mr Foote’s Other Leg, was named best theatre book by the Society for Theatre Research in 2013 and this year was adapted into a play which has just transferred from Hampstead Theatre.
Fans of musical Ushers will appreciate this meditation on love and friendship in the theatre in which the stars are the theatre’s staff and actors. Simon Russell Beale was outstanding in Temple at the Donmar earlier this year as the Dean of St Paul’s facing a dilemma over how to deal with protesters. Here he is transformed and unshackled as the devilishly funny Foote.
The supporting cast is strong with Dervla Kirwan, Joseph Millson, Micah Balfour and Jenny Galloway all worthy of mention. Author Kelly even appears himself as Prince George.
Foote fell out with a former friend, was accused and acquitted of a sexual assault charge by an employee and yet was never quite the same after the brutal surgery which closes the first act.
Theatre lovers will appreciate the warmth radiating from this work, forgive the occasional lapse into sentimentality and rejoice that it has found its way back to its spiritual home.
- Tickets available here. Did you enjoy this review? Follow author Neil Durham on Twitter @NeilDurham
- Picture via Facebook courtesy Hampstead Theatre featuring Simon Russell Beale.