Two or three weeks ago, John mentioned going to see a show with Sir Ian McKellen: Naturally I leaped at the idea: I’ve been a bit of a fan of McKellen’s since he played Gandalf. After that, though, I put the idea to the back of my mind and concentrated on other things. But yesterday afternoon I got a message from J inviting me to meet him up at Green Park to see McKellen’s one man show. Busy though I am with the move, how could I refuse the opportunity to see one of my favourite actors?
I met my friend at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Going in I didn’t quite know what to expect, but nonetheless I was in for a treat. McKellen gave a very, very impressive solo performance, essentially talking on stage for three hours with a fifteen minute break, covering a range of topics from religion to sexuality. He is clearly a very intelligent man with a vast amount of experience. Of course, the parts I enjoyed most was when he spoke about Tolkien and the filming of The Lord Of The Rings: he opened the piece with a recounting of the bridge at Khazad Dum, and Gandalf’s fight with the Balrog. It was a treat for both the Tolkien geek and film buff in me. He went into quite a bit of detail, which I found fascinating.
He rounded off the evening with Shakespeare, reciting many, many soliloquies he knows by heart from almost all the plays. I found myself amazed by his memory, but also by his deep knowledge of the plays and their histories. While some might dismiss shows like the one I saw last night as an old thespian’s ego trip, or his attempt to earn a bit of cash, nonetheless I feel I gained a valuable insight into a great actor, his personality and life experience.