King Lear actor loses voice during National Theatre performance

10:59 23 January 2014

Simon Russell Beale as Lear, with Adrian Scarborough playing The Fool (Picture: Mark Douet/National Theatre)

Simon Russell Beale as Lear, with Adrian Scarborough playing The Fool (Picture: Mark Douet/National Theatre)

Archant

Simon Russell Beale, who is currently playing King Lear in Sam Mendes’ production of the Shakespeare tragedy at the National Theatre, has said cast members believed Sam Troughton was still acting when he lost his voice during a performance on Tuesday.

Actor Sam Troughton as Edmund alongside Kate Fleetwood, Goneril (Picture: National Theatre)Actor Sam Troughton as Edmund alongside Kate Fleetwood, Goneril (Picture: National Theatre)

The British actor, who plays Edmund, stopped mid-sentence in the first half of the preview show earlier this week, and had to be replaced by understudy Paapa Essiedu.

A spokeswoman for the National Theatre said they did not know when he would reappear in the production, which has a press night tonight.

Speaking on the BBC’s Front Row programme yesterday, leading man Beale said he did not know what was going on when the incident happened.

“I make an entrance at the back of the theatre at one point, and was stood there getting ready when I saw [director] Sam [Mendes] whizz past,” he said.

The Fool (Adrian Scarborough) sits at a statue of Lear with The Earl of Kent (Stanley Townsend)  (Picture: Mark Douet/National Theatre)The Fool (Adrian Scarborough) sits at a statue of Lear with The Earl of Kent (Stanley Townsend) (Picture: Mark Douet/National Theatre)

“And he said ‘Sam’s lost his voice’ – and of course I hadn’t heard anything, I didn’t hear it happen on stage…

“I literally didn’t hear what happened, and for the rest of the first half I couldn’t get any information.”

He added some of the cast thought it was deliberate, with Stephen Boxer, who plays Edmund’s father the Earl of Gloucester, telling Troughton “that’s a very daring choice at the Olivier Theatre!”

Beale said it was a “very peculiar feeling” to be on the wings with no information.

“We wish him well, because it must have been terrifying, apparently his voice just completely gave out,” he said.

The veteran stage actor - who played Falstaff in the recent BBC television adaptations of Henry IV, Part I and Part II – recalled a similar incident last year in which he broke his finger on stage during a performance of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens.

“I had to say to the audience: ‘I’m very sorry ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to have to go because I’ve broken my hand.

“And I was on stage with one other actor who said go now, because it was dislocated.

“And within nine minutes… My understudy was on and dressed and made up…

“So that was what was happening in the interval.”

Mendes’ King Lear runs until the end of May, with all tickets barring those available on the day sold out until April.

A spokeswoman for the National Theatre said of Troughton, who is an acclaimed Shakespeare actor: “We’re not sure yet when he’ll be back.

“It was just a problem with his voice – we can’t say any more than that.”

Latest Stories

18:02
The chair appears to move of its own accord - or perhaps there is a ghostly explanation?

The spooky goings on apparently took place just hours after a psychic medium took to the stage in Romford. Coincidence? Almost certainly...

Read more
People enjoy the Royal Victoria beach as temperatures reaches 28C in London.

This weekend saw London’s biggest manmade beach open at the Royal Victoria Dock in Canning Town.

Read more
Nightcapp was born when Graham's friends got fed up with him waking them up late at night for recommendations for bars [Image courtesy of Nightcapp]

It’s surprising how much it happens in this global city: last orders comes before you’re ready for it, and you’re left with the choice of finding a 24-hour off-license or getting the nightbus whilst disconcertingly sober.

Read more

Top Stories

Promotions

Renault-Zoe

The Renault ZOE follows on from the introduction of the electric Fluence ZE and Twizy, but unlike the former, the Zoe was designed from the ground up as an electric vehicle.

When no simple way to find Real Ale was at hand, 4 Ale enthusiasts got together to allow anyone with a smart phone to find Real Ale no matter where they happened to be, this was the birth of the Perfect Pint app.

London24 have partnered up with The Week magazine to offer you a complimentary issue – delivered free to your door.

Quizzes

The prize is glory (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

It used to be Manhattan that was famous for its majestic skyline, but now our fair city is catching up. Do you know your Shard from your Heron Tower?

Read more
Test your London musical knowledge with our album quiz (Images via Getty)

Does your music knowledge stretch from The Rolling Stones to Rudimental, Spandau Ballet to Siouxsie and the Banshees? If so then test it out with our London bands quiz:

Read more
How much do you really know about QPR legends like Les Ferdinand? Picture: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

Test your knowledge of QPR’s greatest players with our fantastic legends quiz.

Read more