Sunday, 19 February 2012

I'm the New Theatre Critic for the Super Soaraway Comet!

Front of stage at the Rose Theatre
NEXT stop on this helter-skelter ride since the closure of the News of the World is my beloved Surrey Comet where, as you may know by now, I have been appointed theatre critic.
I’m only doing it for the money of course.
Even though my starting salary is £000,000.00pa, I tough-talked my way into getting them to agree to a 100% pay rise after three months. Shrewd eh? (You have to get up early to get one past Thurlbeck.)
The call to serve the readers of this 158-year-old journal of record came out of the blue.
David Lindsell, the chief reporter, had been tasked to find a fellow to write about the plays at the Rose Theatre, Kingston-upon-Thames and had seen my blog.
Stroking his chin, he said, “What about that fool on the hill? You know, the one who lives in the hovel with flashing blue lights outside?”
Ha-ha! He was only joking of course and I did chortle when I heard that!
Then there was the small matter of remuneration.
“But he was on a Fleet Street salary, won’t he expect big bucks?”, enquired assistant editor Julia Kennard
“Nah”, said David. “Have you seen him lately? He can’t afford the price of a haircut since the paper closed!”
Ha-ha! He does like his little joke does our David!
However, I accepted at once without hesitation.

In the impressive Rose Theatre auditorium

For it’s a pleasure and an enormous privilege to be part of this dedicated team which provides a lively and interesting newspaper and one which I have read every week for more than 20 years.
I live in Hinchley Wood, Esher and my nearest theatre is the Rose Theatre in Kingston.
It only opened its doors in January, 2008. But its pedigree is magnificent and I’ve been a regular visitor since day one.
The powerhouse behind it was Sir Peter Hall, the founder of the RSC and former National Theatre director.
Recently, we’ve had Dame Judi Dench as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Jane Asher as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.
Sir Peter directed Dame Judi in the same role at the 1963 Chichester Festival and acts as a magnet for talent to this wonderfully modern theatre.

Outside the Rose Theatre

No ‘pros arch’ and heavy curtains here. It’s all big, close-up wide open spaces.
Under the expert leadership of artistic director Stephen Unwin, we can look forward to Joely Richardson in Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea and Alison Steadman in Michael Frayn’s Here in the coming weeks.
Who of my generation missed Miss Steadman in ‘Nuts in May’ and ‘Abigail’s Party’ in the BBC’s Play for Today in the 1970s? Few performances sear themselves into the memory as hers.
So from this ‘umble, ‘ovel, on the ‘ill, where this blog is penned, we will be spreading the word far and wide about theatre in SW London and in Surrey, eventually taking in the Wimbledon Theatre and Richmond Theatre.
Then, for this blog only, on to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford.
We also have the West End on our radar too, with the Soho Theatre granting me critic status for their shows. More will follow.
Even my old adversary, Mr Tom ‘Moriarty’ Watson MP, tweeted my arrival at the Surrey Comet to his impressive list of 69,000 followers.
My grateful thanks to him for that. I've just sent his email request for a ‘bung’ to Operation Elvedon.
Off to see my barber now to see if he’ll give me a bit of credit on the back of my pending pay-rise.

Me with my new colleagues Bill, left and George, right.

The Lady from the Sea, starring Joely Richardson runs from Feb 23-Mar17.
Here, starring Alison Steadman, runs from Apr 19-May 12.
For information on bookings, go to:
My reviews can be read on this blog or at the Surrey Comet website, where you can also read about how they unveiled their new critic!
The Surrey Comet comes out every Friday, price 55p from all good newsagents from Richmond in the north, as far west as Sunbury, east to Epsom and south to the M25.

Read All About It! In the Surrey Comet

Now for that haircut!

 Pictures by Gareth Harmer at Deadlinepix.

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