The importance the British acting community places on regional theatre will, once again, be at the forefront this Summer as Aidan Turner, a.k.a. Captain Ross Poldark, heads to the stage in Martin McDonagh’s controversial black comedy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore. Turner will fill his time until filming begins on the final series of Poldark starring as Mad Padraic, a cat-loving terrorist deemed too violent to be a member of the IRA, a decidedly less romantic character than Captain Ross. Unfortunately for the streets of Belfast, ‘Mad Padraic’ cares more for his cat Wee Thomas than he does about Irish independence.
In my humble opinion, this has always been what has elevated British comedy and drama actors well-above their American counterparts. There isn’t a night somewhere in England that you won’t find a very familiar face from your favorite British comedy or drama performing in either one of the many strong regional theatre’s or on London’s West End stage. It’s not uncommon to see the likes of Felicity Kendal, Penelope Keith, Geoffrey Palmer, Patricia Routledge, Judi Dench, Rowan Atkinson or any of a number of other British comedy or drama stars on stage.
Though many will argue it’s the writing that sets British television apart, of which I would whole-heartedly agree, it’s also the incredible talents of the actors and actresses involved that have had years and years of formal training at places such as The Old Vic or the Royal Shakespeare Company. Their ‘formal’ training in theater coupled with their desire to bounce from television roles, be it comedy or drama, to the live stage and back again keeps regional theater alive and well throughout the UK. More often than not, you will be able to see your favorite British comedy or drama star on stage up close and personal in front of a live audience whether it be Bath, Guilford or London’s West End.
Next time you find yourself looking for something to do most anywhere in England, take a moment, look up at the marquee of the nearest theatre and I’ll bet you’ll recognize the name in lights. What a great way to see a British comedy or drama ‘friend’ and support regional theatre in the UK.
The Lieutenant of Inishmore will run at the Noel Coward Theatre from 23rd June to 8th September 2018.