Went last week to see Pinter’s No Man’s Land at London’s Aldwych Theatre, starring Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan.
Patrick Stewart had lost his voice and so his understudy took over.
At the end of the play. Ian McKellan came forward and praised the performance of the understudy. And quite rightly as it was excellent.
Two points: as the cast were taking their curtain calls ( there were three) McKellan kept the understudy’s hand in his – a brotherly gesture or an attempt to prevent the understudy from stepping forward to take a well-earned applause of his own? Still, that’s the theatre for you.
And the second point? McKellan got the understudy’s name wrong so here it is: Andrew Jarvis.
If you’re interested in the plight of the understudy – always the bridesmaid never the bride – have a look at David Weston’s excellent book Covering McKellan. He spent a year as understudy to Ian McKellan when the latter was touring Lear.
Poignant but a story that has to be told. All part of the theatre canon.