We are only a few weeks away from the first performances of Simon Stephens’ Birdland at the Royal Court. So much excitement riding on this: Andrew Scott in a Simon Stephens play (Sea Wall anyone?) directed by Carrie Cracknell. No pressure but anything less than superlative might be a disappointment.
This is not Andrew Scott’s first theatrical appearance since he played Moriarty (there is no way around it, for certain actors in certain roles there is before and after). He always stuck very close to the stage, all the way back to his native Ireland and Abbey theatre. My first introduction to his talents was at a Royal Court rehearsed reading in early 2009. (I had to look it up but the play was The Uncertainty Of The Situation (Die Unsicherheit der Sachlage) by Philipp Loehle. The cast – take a deep breath – included Katherine Parkinson, Jeff Rawle, Paul Ready, Samuel West). Once I saw him on stage, I always kept tabs, I wanted to have that rush again.
But this was seven years after he played Angel in Peter Gill’s Original Sin, after Frank Wedekind’s Lulu. The production premiered in Sheffield Crucible with mixed reviews but I can’t help to feel bawled over by its subject matter: “Angel, a spell-bindingly beautiful boy is plucked from the streets to be the plaything of a wealthy newspaper proprietor. This street-boy turned socialite moves with ease between the worlds of privilege and poverty in 1890’s Paris and London. Angel’s rapid success turns as swiftly in to self destruction as he is caught in a downward spiral of obsession, money, murder, suicide and white slavery.”
Naturally Andrew Scott playing Angel only serves to remind me of his brief scene from Tony Kushner’s Angels in America at the “National Theatre at 50” performance in October. In an evening full of highlights, this was a strong contender for the brightest moment of them all. I fervently wish for a full production and I fantasise about my perfect (british) cast: Andrew Scott as Prior, Tom Burke as Louis, David Tennant as Joe Pitt, Nancy Carroll as Harper Pitt, Simon Russell Beale as Roy Khon, Lennie James as Belize and Hattie Morahan as Ethel Rosenberg.
It can happen, can’t it?