a guest at the convention Myth & Magic in Birmingham, England on 17-19 April 2020, along with fellow Merlin alumni Emilia Fox (Morgause), Fintan McKeown (King Odin), Michelle Ryan (Nimueh) and Alex Vlahos (Mordred). For more info see the event’s website and Twitter feed: phoenixconventions.co.uk; twitter.com/PhoenixConsUK. update: This event was to have taken place in Blackpool in September 2019, but has been postponed due to a change in location.
appearing as Marcus in the film The Secret Garden, with Colin Firth as Lord Archibald Craven and Julie Walters as Mrs Medlock. Discovered via Rupert’s page at his agency! IMDB page for the film. No news on release dates yet, though Rupert indicated it would be late 2019.
Alexander Vlahos (the older Mordred in Merlin) posted this to Twitter. They are attending MCM Comic Con in Birmingham this weekend, along with Tom Hopper (Percival) and Asa Butterfiled (the younger Mordred).
Rupert stars as the Duke Orsino in this musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night. The adaptation was conceived by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Shaina Taub, with Taub writing the music and lyrics, and is co-directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah and Oskar Eustis. It is Kwei-Armah’s first offering as Artistic Director at the Young Vic Theatre.
The show runs from 2 October to 17 November 2018 at the Young Vic in London. More details and tickets available at the official website.
You can read an interesting interview with Gabrielle Brooks (Viola) by Kate Berrington, about the accessibility of Shakespeare, in the British Vogue, 14 October 2018.
I’ve been lucky enough to see this play twice now, and I’ve loved it. I have to admit to being a bit wary the first time, as the reviews (quoted below) had led me to fear the play was Not Quite Shakespeare, and maybe there wouldn’t be enough Orsino, either. So I was very relieved to find that none of this was so.
The story we’re already familiar with from Shakespeare’s play was certainly compressed in this adaptation, but it was all in there. (And it’s not one of his longer plays, anyway.) The romance and comedy from the original was emphasised in this version, and the cruelty and pain featured less so, but again it was all there. Or maybe I just didn’t miss a lesser emphasis on the aspects of the play I find most challenging and/or problematic…?
Or maybe we feel the pain less because in this production Malvolio retains his self-love, his belief in his own intrinsic greatness, despite being so cruelly dealt with. I’ve seen productions which end things very bitterly, with Sir Toby’s marriage to Maria being foreshadowed as disastrous, Malvolio’s threat of revenge coming from a broken man, Feste alone, Andrew Aguecheek dismissed, and so on. This adaptation does not interpret the outcomes in such ways, and I don’t know that there’s any reason in the original text why it shouldn’t do so. Why not, instead, end with not only the main romances being properly aligned, but also with a joyous song including everyone in a renewed community, and Orsino and Antonio (formerly wartime enemies) shaking hands in a spirit of kindness and reconciliation…?
The themes of this show are love and joy, acceptance of others as they are, and having the courage to be one’s own full self. To find such subject matter in Twelfth Night is no stretch at all.
Much of the spoken dialogue came directly from Shakespeare, and the lyrics were often inspired by the original play as well. I can’t imagine Shakespeare himself being fastidious about such a joyous and accessible experience. He created popular entertainment, too, after all!
As for Rupert … oh, he does play a lover so very well! Orsino isn’t exactly the largest role in the original play. However, this adaptation focuses more on the confused triangle of love between Orsino, Olivia and Cesario/Viola, and so we are blessed with more Rupert than I’d feared! Alas, he is absent for a longish stretch in the latter parts of the play, but he has so much lovely stuff to do in the early parts and in the last scenes, that I can cope with that.
It’s not unexpected to find Rupert called “effortlessly charming” in reviews, including one reviewer this time who wondered why on earth Olivia was resisting him at all! But we know that love doesn’t work like that, or at least not in this play. It was sweet to watch Orsino feeling heart-wrenched by Olivia, but also responding despite himself to Cesario. Right from the start he’s noticing Cesario’s irresistible smile, and soon he’s returning it in kind. (This comes with extra frisson, as Brooks is the most convincing Cesario I’ve seen.) The love triangle is all very genuine, as is the resolution once Sebastian makes a fourth – which compares nicely to the irresponsible antics of Sir Toby’s crew, and to Malvolio’s self-important dramatics.
Everyone does an absolutely terrific job here, though my heart was mostly caught up by Rupert, Gabrielle Brooks (Cesario/Viola) and Natalie Dew (Olivia). There is lots of laughter and lots of energy along the way, and only one scene which left me a bit indifferent. The community chorus were superb, and it was great to see they were diverse in all kinds of ways – including age, with a few older characters. Inclusion is, self-evidently, the way to go!
So, it’s five stars and three cheers from me for the Young Vic and the artistic directions of Kwame Kwei-Armah!
Review Round-Up by Fergus Morgan, The Stage, 10 October 2018.
The first show by a new Artistic Director is an important indicator of what’s to come, a chance to establish the tone for the ensuing years with a memorable statement about the kind of theatre they want to make. In assuming responsibility for the Young Vic, a musical version of Twelfth Night may not be the obvious choice for an inaugural show but it’s community-based inclusive staging and strong equality message has Kwame Kwei-Armah setting-out his stall from the start. … This version of Twelfth Night is designed to engage the audience as much as possible beginning with barbecue food and interaction with some of the performers. Robert Jones’ cartoonish set juts-out into the audience guaranteeing everyone a good view, while maximum use is made of the auditorium’s exit points and staircases. They really want you to have a good time and with plenty of comic focus and a rousing love-in finale the feel-good factor is dialled-up to the max. … Gerard Carey may be the best Malvolio you’ve ever seen, utterly embodying Olivia’s taunt that “you are sick of self-love” and given the most astonishing tap routine with a hilarious interpretation of the yellow stockings segment. … Olivia (Natalie Drew) becomes amusingly beguiled by Cesario, an interaction played for comic effect which Drew sells superbly, but Orsino’s devotion is almost entirely serious and Rupert Young is charming as the heartbroken Duke aching with unrequited love. Brooks is equally enchanting as the suffering Viola in disguise, but the emphasis on the humour takes away from some of the pain of Shakespeare’s original, that fine balance between light and dark captured in the songs isn’t reflected in the storytelling as well as it could be.3.5 stars from Maryam Philpott, The Reviews Hub, 12 October 2018
To quote from various sources: “The David Holmes Cricket Cup began in the summer of 2009 to raise money for the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital (RNOH). Since then, each summer, the event has been hosted for David’s family and friends, where the two teams, Gryffindor and Slytherin, have battled it out for the trophy and continued to raise money for the RNOH. It’s a fun, family day out with our famous Cricket Match and our Auction, Raffle, Bar, BBQ, Face Painting and Bouncy Castle providing further entertainment.”
Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter) says: “David Holmes [a stuntman] was seriously injured in January 2009 while filming a harnessed aerial sequence for the final installment of the film franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Davey Holmes was so grateful to the RNOH for their care of him following this injury that he’s been raising funds for them ever since through this annual cricket event.
Bradley James (Arthur in Merlin) has regularly taken the field for Gryffindor, and has often been joined by our Rupert. I have found team photographs featuring Rupert for the years 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2018, with thanks to “A Shot of Brad” Live Journal account, Bradley’s Instagram account, and Google! Which is not to say Rupert didn’t participate in other years. However, few photos from the event are shared online, so there’s no one official source that covers the whole period.
Rupert appeared as the defendant, James Byron, in this first episode (shown in two parts) of Judge Rinder’s Crown Court. This is the ‘pilot’ for a return of the long-running drama Crown Court, which aired on ITV from 1972 to 1984. The idea is that a ‘real life’ court case is explored through the show, and we can then form our own opinions on the guilt or innocence of the accused, and on whether the verdict and sentence were appropriate.
In this case, James Byron was accused of murdering his wife, Anna Byron, with poison. More than that, I will not say! And I haven’t looked up the original case. I’m just enjoying the sheer drama of it all at the moment.
There are a number of ‘flashback’ scenes in the first episode, which are lovely, of course – though I always find them a bit problematic. Are we meant to take them as the truth, or are they dramatised versions of the current testimony?
Anyway, Rupert does a lovely job, and also looks superbly handsome in the court room. But, you know, this impression may well change once we learn more in the second part of the ep!
I’ve taken the liberty of capturing some screenshots below (with great respect, but without permission). The episode is available to play on the ITV Hub for the next thirty days.
I had the honour of interviewing Rupert on the Sunday afternoon at MCM Comic Con in London. He was just as obliging and delightful about it as you would imagine. One of the reasons I like him so much is that, whether it’s on panels or individually, he really does try to give honest and meaningful answers to whatever he is asked.
So, let’s get into it! I started off with a couple of easy ones…
What has been your favourite role, and why?
I’ll say Sir Leon [Merlin], because it’s opened up lots of doors, and I got to spend time with people, get close to people, film with amazing people, and film in amazing locations.
What was your favourite location?
Everyone says that!
Yeah, but it was amazing. It really was.
What do you look for in a director?
One that wants to hire me! Someone who has done their work, and is very passionate about the project they’re doing – and who I trust and can get the best out of me.
I think he’s just kind, and very good and very gentle, and not too much ego. He wants the best out of actors, he really cares about performance. So, that’s why I love him.
What did you do in the few years between leaving school and studying with LAMDA?
I did lots of things. I taught in a school, I worked in the City, I worked in The GAP, I directed plays for children, taught drama – quite a lot of things.
Actually, when I first left school, I got accepted into musical theatre at drama school, but I couldn’t get the funding together. Which, in hindsight – I think when you’ve first left school, you’re desperate to start your life – and then you go, actually, it’s quite good to not do that. But obviously I wanted to be able to do musicals. I waited, and started doing a couple of plays before drama school – but it was very hard, and I knew I had to train. I applied for LAMDA, and that was it. Because by then I knew I didn’t want to just study musicals. I liked them, but I knew that I wanted to do other things.
Do you think it’s useful, though, to live a ‘real’ life for a while, work in ‘real’ jobs?
Yes, I think so. It’s weird because when you first do acting at school, it’s an extracurricular thing, which is amazing and really fun. However, when you go into it as a job, sometimes it’s so… it takes over your whole life, and sometimes you need to have other passions to keep you sane – and in acting you need to learn a lot of different things, different skills – that’s one of the reasons I love it.
I think it’s good to take time, but some people’s careers happen when they’re very young, and others’ careers are – I like to think I was going to be a ‘leading man’ as opposed to a ‘leading boy’. [laughs] Well, maybe not ‘leading’, but ‘man’.