Heroes, Myths, Wizardry and Shakespeare…and let’s not talk about the rugby

Back in August, from the comfort of our AirBnB on Skye, Liz and I decided we’d love to see more theatre this year. So we looked around and found that Stephen Fry was coming to Oxford to talk about Heroes and Myths from Greek Mythology, and that Sir Ian McKellen was travelling the whole of the UK celebrating his 80th birthday by performing a one-man show full of the many characters from his distinguished career on stage and film.

Working backwards, we went to see Gandalf the other night before I flew to New York to begin this two-week tour of the US. I didn’t really know what to expect beyond the fact that he’d done a LAHT of Shakespeare and had been in films that I’ve loved such as Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, X-Men and Holmes. I figured a one-man show might include some biographical information perhaps about his life and some anecdotes about acting. I had an open mind and, to be honest, I was going because it was SIR IAN MCKELLEN! 

I won’t spoil it for those of you still wishing to see it because he’s playing at the Harold Pinter Theatre for a bit longer and all the funds that he’s raising from the entire tour are going to theatre charities and independent theatre companies the nation over. The show is fairly interactive and it’s basically a conversation with your favourite Grandparent telling you about the weird and wonderful goings on in their lifetime, with hilarity and touching moments, too. Throughout he breaks into character to display the variety of parts he’s played in his lifetime, notably his extraordinary body of Shakespeare, which had the entire second half dedicated to it.

We were full to the brim with stories and a healthy dose of name-dropping that had nothing eye-rolling about it but more jaw-dropping because the who’s who of British stage actors have been his mates for decades. Legend is an overused word but for Sir Ian it could not be more fitting. And seeing him standing at the door afterwards with a collection box to raise funds after a three-hour show was inspiring. What a way to celebrate eighty years by giving back in such a generous manner to the industry that’s made him a household name. Legend.

And so to another screen icon, Stephen Fry (not yet a ‘sir’ but surely that’s just a matter of time). If you want to go see someone read you a bedtime story (maybe you’ve already listened to his complete Harry Potter audiobooks?) then look no further. His one-man show called Mythos: A Trilogy was worth every penny. This man has the most extraordinary memory and to remember hours worth of Greek names and places and stories and reel them off as if they’re Tom, Dick and Harry going down to the local fish and chip shop (have Tom, Dick and Harry ever gone to the local fish and chip shop together?), was phenomenal. In the room were clearly people ranging from complete blank canvases to classicists. And the manner in which he engaged with all of us was brilliant. Some of the funniest bits were when he broke character and talked to the audience and had us in stitches! 

I bought his two books which form the basis of this nationwide tour and have been making my way through Mythos over the past couple of months. I studied Classics at school and so reading this in a non-academic but accessible and humourous way is a great way to relax before falling asleep. So yes, I look forward to reading that Stephen Fry has been knighted one day and I won’t be in the least surprised because he is national treasure and I urge you to see him live if you ever get the chance. In the meantime, YouTube’s a great place to watch previous episodes of QI, Blackadder, Laurie and Fry and also numerous debates on subjects ranging from religion to politics to gender and also a really interesting documentary on Wagner.

Back in the real world now. We’re off to Lawrence, Kansas today. Flying from Detroit to Chicago to Kansas City. Then it’s a short hop to the home of Supernatural: Lawrence, KS. (For any fans of the Winchesters, as Dean said to Chuck: ‘Why Lawrence?’ Chuck replied: ‘I don’t know. It all has to end where it started, I guess.’) Moving right along…

Fall, or Autumn outside of North America, lays on a beautiful range of warm, earthy colours. It was my Dad’s favourite time of air. Cool, fresh, and the sight of the leaves particular during the golden hour of light at the end of the day is about as hygge as any Dane could wish for.

Last night we performed to an enthusiastic crowd in Clinton Township, Michigan. We’d worked with a choir in the afternoon and they performed two songs with us at the top of the second half. I was really impressed with their focus and warmth of their sound in such a young group. Their director James Pecar is doing wonderful things and I hope we get to see them again in the coming years.

I’ll be catching up with you soon. Let’s not talk about the rugby.

Bye for now!


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