'He Not Only Identifies with Dylan Thomas but Often the Two Merge' Actor Bob Kingdom Is about to Resurrect His One-Man Show about Dylan Thomas and He's Planning to Premiere Another about King Edward VIII. He Tells Karen Price How He Picks People to Portray

Article excerpt

* ichael Sheen isn't the only Welsh actor who's renowned for his accurate portrayals of real people.

For Bob Kingdom is something of a chameleon too.

On the stage he's already brought authors Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote, funnyman Stan Laurel and FBI chief J Edgar Hoover back to life.

In fact, he's even taken on the guise of American high society party hostess Elsa Maxwell.

Now he's looking forward to recreating a royal figure - the Duke of Windsor, the man who abdicated as King Edward VIII.

Kingdom hopes to premiere his one-man show, An Audience With The Duke Of Windsor, in the coming months.

So why was he keen to tackle the role of the playboy royal who gave up the throne to marry American divorcee Wallace Simpson? "I do people I know I can do," admits the Cardiff-born actor.

"I do those who are within my range vocally and physically. I want to be able to become that person.

"I wouldn't think I was giving value for money if that didn't occur."

When he decided to create a show about Hoover, who was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, he decided to introduce Maxwell, who was famous for throwing lavish parties, into the performance.

"I thought it would be nice to portray a woman," says Kingdom. "Setting my vanity to one side I thought I could look like her. Hoover had come out as a cross-dresser so I thought I would put the two characters together. I thought that if he was in drag he wouldn't look unlike Elsa Maxwell."

Kingdom started work on his show about the Duke of Windsor in March and he's now looking forward to staging it.

It will focus on the time when the royal was writing his autobiography and was looking back at his life as he penned his thoughts.

"People have so many opinions about him," he says.

But before then he will be returning to what is perhaps his most famous role of all - that of Dylan Thomas.

Kingdom premiered Dylan Thomas: Return Journey at the Edinburgh Festival in 1985.

Four years later, Hollywood star Sir Anthony Hopkins directed a theatre tour.

The Oscar-winner had watched Kingdom perform the piece at a restaurant in Soho, London, and was keen to get involved.

"For many years I wanted to play Dylan Thomas in either a play or a film," The Silence of the Lambs star revealed in the past. …