Magazine article The Spectator

Twenty Questions

Magazine article The Spectator

Twenty Questions

Article excerpt

Q: Why 20 questions?

A: Because a) nothing much opens in London this week; b) I'm not there anyway and c) as a belated tribute to Norman Hackforth who died over the holidays having spent 30 years of his life as Noel Coward's pianist and the Mystery Voice on the original BBC radio Twenty Questions.

Q: I am a theatre-goer who has not been to London these last six months. Kindly explain what has happened to a) Sadler's Wells, b) the Ambassadors, c) the Duke of York's, d) the Royalty, e) the Bush, f) the Whitehall, g) Covent Garden and h) the Barbican.

A: a) Closed for total restructuring; b) now known as the Royal Court Upstairs; c) now just known as the Royal Court while the Royal Court, if you're still with me, is undergoing elements of refurbishment in Sloane Square; d) now mysteriously known as the Peacock, soon to disappear forever as it is taken over as a lecture hall by the London School of Economics; e) about to reopen after months of restructuring; f) about to go dark amid ominous rumours that it may become a television studio, at least for the summer; g) about to go dark for a two-year rebuilding programme; h) about to lose the full-time RSC residency, replacements as yet uncertain but expect some sort of visiting World Theatre Season and guest invitations to regional British companies.

Q: How old are you and how come you never get bored of going to the theatre three or four nights a week?

A: Fifty-five and, because I spent most of my childhood backstage with a family of travelling actors, I still get nervous if I am not in a theatre most week nights.

Q: What has happened these last few months to a) John Tusa, b) Mark Rylance, c) Genista McIntosh, d) Sir Peter Hall and e) Trevor Nunn?

A: a) Appointed artistic director of the Barbican; b) appointed artistic director of Shakespeare's Globe; c) appointed to succeed Jeremy Isaacs at Covent Garden; d) taken over the Old Vic with plans to restore it to a producing management; e) will replace Richard Eyre this summer as director of the National Theatre.

Q: How many directors has the National had?

A: Four: Olivier, Hall, Eyre and Nunn.

Q: How many of those were previously artistic directors of the RSC?

A: Two: Hall and Nunn.

Q: How many full-scale musicals have been written by Boublil and Schonberg?

A: Four: Les Mis, Miss Saigon, Martin Guerre and the one everyone forgets, La Revolution Frangaise. …

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