“Such stuff as dreams are made on”: John Heffernan as Hamlet

John Heffernan - with a crown - in Edward II. Photo Johan Persson

John Heffernan – with a crown – in Edward II. Photo Johan Persson

I always had a soft spot for John Heffernan. Besides the obvious (talent to knock your socks off, to be anything at any time, anywhere), he is also someone I caught from the start. In thirty years, when he is revered as a theatre great, I will be discreetly smug, having noticed early on (and having missed nothing ever since). When earlier in the week Jamie Lloyd said he wants to direct John Heffernan in Hamlet, my reaction was one of undignified excitement – while recognising the inevitability of it all. Of course, he will play Hamlet. The only question is when, where and with whom.

To that end, I decided to give Jamie Lloyd a helping hand and cast the rest of the production:

Claudius: I always wanted Claudius to be young, considerably younger than Hamlet’s father and only a few years older than the prince. Uncle and nephew grew up together, playmates, confidants and best friends. But close to adulthood, they took separate paths and Claudius started to be resentful in the knowledge he ‘d never be king, even though he is temperamentally suited to it more than the young prince. My first thought was to cast Tom Hiddleston, but in the end I decided he is too young and Michael Fassbender should get the part.

Gertrude: Despite her position, the queen is unwilling to do what is expected of her and surrender all her desires. Tilda Swinton is the rebel in any role. Not to mention unfathomably sexy. (If we can’t have Tilda Swinton, we should get Cate Blanchett).

The Ghost: Paul Rhys – both tender and a little bit frightening – doesn’t look like he could be John Heffernan’s father, but Hamlet was never his father’s son. There is much love between them, but also distrust as they don’t understand each other. Continue reading

The W list: which actors I most want to see on stage (whom I haven’t seen yet)?

From left to right: Lesley Manville, Julian Wadlam, Gary Oldman, Linda Bassett, Meera Syal, Allan Corduner in Caryl Churchill's  Serious Money. Royal Court 1987

From left to right: Lesley Manville, Julian Wadlam, Gary Oldman, Linda Bassett, Meera Syal, Allan Corduner in Caryl Churchill’s Serious Money. Royal Court 1987

Every theatre goer has one. A list of actors we most want to see on stage and for one reason or another this hasn’t happened. In fact, one of the big pleasures of seeing A View from The Bridge at the Young Vic was to see Mark Strong return to the theatre. Even if the production wasn’t the monumental, searing experience that it is, seeing Mark Strong on live performance would still justify all the excitement in the world. As I have crossed one actor off the list, I hope the remaining will reconsider their long absence and return to the stage sooner rather than later (and on this side of the Atlantic please).

Strictly in alphabetical order:

Michael Fassbender: He is among the most celebrated film actors in recent years but Fassbender’s stage work is negligible. He only has four theatre credits in 12 years, the first one age 17, playing Cinderella’s ugly sister in a pub theatre production of a play called “Fairytales Fairytales 123”; the last theatre credit is in 2006 at the Edinburgh Fringe. He could be like Daniel Day Lewis, one of the best film actors of all time but without significant stage work but I hope this won’t be the case. He ‘s been hanging around with James McAvoy, maybe he ‘ll get inspired or dared into doing stage work. Continue reading