OPENING NIGHT THEATRE REVIEW/Q&A: Three Kings starring Andrew Scott at the Old Vic

WORTH A LOOK?: ***1/2

WHERE? Old Vic RUNTIME: 60 minutes (no interval)

WHEN? 3/9, closes 5/9

This monologue was written for Scott by author Stephen Beresford and marks a return to working with director Matthew Warchus for the first time we think since the trio combined to devastating effect on quite possibly our favourite ever film, 2014’s comedy and emotional masterpiece Pride (watch clip below)

  • Read on for reasons including gems friend Dermot O’Leary teased out of Scott in the Q&A

The titular Three Kings centres around a riddle involving three coins and how they might be moved and solving it is a task an absent father sets his eight-year-old son on a brief return.

Scott plays multiple characters including that eight-year-old as he ages and we meet him at varying stages in his life and in his difficult relationship with his father.

Monologues are incredibly difficult to get right and while the recent Talking Heads reboot was mostly static in its recent TV incarnation before it arrives at the Bridge Theatre next week, the use of cameras here, multiple screens, music and a performer as skilled at impersonations as Scott here, breathes life into the medium.

Author Simon Stephens wrote Sea Wall for Scott and, although a monologue, was quite different to Three Kings. We said when it was performed at the Old Vic two years ago: ‘Sea Wall is certainly the most affecting of Stephens’ plays we’ve seen and we can see why it was written for Scott because it is all the more powerful in its conclusion because of the easy but, as we learn later, enforced breeziness of its opening.’

We learn more about the affinity Scott has with this venue during the Q&A in which he tells O’Leary this was the first London theatre in which he worked back in 1999.

We saw him here most recently in Present Laughter last year and said of him then: ‘(Noel) Coward is not for everyone, although Scott was in Design For Living at this very venue opposite Tom Burke in 2010, but this fine production does his wit justice and this is London’s comedy hit of the summer.’

He compares his Fleabag co-star and author Phoebe Waller-Bridge with Beresford: ‘They’re both writers who open you up with laughter.’

Tonight is the first of four shows which will be performed live without an audience and screened to 12,000 viewers across the globe.

Scott misses the interaction with the audience and how they allow him to judge his performance, what is funny and how to pace the show.

He praises the Old Vic’s design which allows it to be both ‘epic and very personal, it’s genuinely iconic’.

He’s come a long way since acting classes at the same age as the character he first plays in Three Kings to help with his lisp and shyness. But he’s keen not to forget what it was like to be that child because he equates acting so closely with ‘playing’ with the freedom of youth.

O’Leary asks him about the ‘pinch yourself’ moments during his career and Scott talks of his admiration of Anthony Hopkins with whom he performed opposite in a TV production of King Lear.

He talks about the importance of taking work opposite those in leading roles one admires and how his minor role in TV’s acclaimed The Hour enabled him to learn so much.

The boot is surely now on the other foot with others doing well to learn opposite Scott as we’re reminded by his monsta-winning turn in Hamlet: ‘We’ve been critical of Scott’s inaudibility previously but here he savours every word, makes familiar speeches seem fresh and is mesmerising when contemplative and frequently explosive when veering off into unpredictability.’

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Old Vic. Tickets
  • Have you seen this show? Let us know what you thought in the comments below
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham, email neildurham3@gmail.com and check us out on Instagram and Facebook

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