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Posts Tagged ‘Kenneth Tynan’

I did not see any of Corin Redgrave’s early appearances with the RSC, but I do have a VHS which captures his Octavius Caesar in Antony and Cleopatra, following an ITV recording of the production. The first time I saw him on stage was a year or so before he went to Stratford. He had just taken over from Daniel Massey (also to be a member of the RSC in 1983/4) the title role of Abelard in Ronald Millar’s Abelard and Heloise which was enjoying a West End run at Wyndham’s Theatre. I still recall the quiet dignity and sensitivity which he brought to the role of the philosopher monk, as well as his anguish as he sought God’s guidance for his future.

Provincial Theatre also provided him with rich roles. I think particularly of his appearance at Derby as Crocker-Harris in The Browning Version (a role previously made famous by his father in the early film version) and at Lichfield Garrick when he co-directed the opening production of The Recruiting Officer and also provided a ripe and memorable character study of Captain Brazen.

I particularly remember his return to the RSC in 1996. It was to play George Washington in the premiere of The General from America and our younger son and myself were present for the first preview. What was noticeable was again the sensitivity he brought to the role, as well as his quite unselfish underplaying. Our son (who was studying Drama) had never seen Corin Redgrave before (although he had of course heard of him) and after the performance remarked it had been “..a treat to watch such acting”.

Fortunately, Stratford was to welcome back this member of the Redgrave dynasty when he was invited by Michael Boyd to play King Lear in the 2004 season of Tragedies at the Main House. It was fascinating to think that Michael Redgrave had also played the role at the then Shakespeare Memorial Theatre over fifty years before and his son now added to theatrical lore another memorable interpretation of this most challenging of roles.

Not only are these performances captured on video at the Shakespeare Centre, but an earlier interpretation of Lear is obtainable on cassette following a BBC Radio Three broadcast in 2001.

I am also aware that he played Kenneth Tynan during the New Work Festival that season, but alas I was not able to get to a performance. What I DO remember that season is his appearance for a Question and Answer session during the RSC Summer School at the Shakespeare Institute and the gracious way in which he was prepared to discuss his interpretation of Lear. Not only that, he was happy to remain afterwards to chat about the production and I was fortunate to have a few words with someone who will remain a legend in British Theatre.

Tony Boyd-Williams

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