According to Sir Trevor Nunn, "The Long-Running Show Might Be a Thing of the 20th Century". (Notebook)

By Millard, Rosie | New Statesman (1996), June 2, 2003 | Go to article overview

According to Sir Trevor Nunn, "The Long-Running Show Might Be a Thing of the 20th Century". (Notebook)


Millard, Rosie, New Statesman (1996)


They call him Clever Trevor. Only now one has to add a Sir, as he appears, fresh from the palace, striding into the Almeida Theatre in a smart suit rather than his traditional button-down denim. He still has the spooky son-of-Peter Hall beard though. Trevor Nunn used to be a rather frightening proposal for a journalist, and not just because of the denim. But one tap from Prince Charles with a sword, and he is even charming about theatre critics. "It's only dishonesty which irritates me," is his only comment about the media obsession with the fortune he's made from his contractual arrangement with subsidised shows that then transfer into the West End (Les Mis, et cetera).

No, Trevor has changed and, according to him, so have we. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Cameron Mackintosh have often wondered aloud why no other producer/composer team has copied the theatrical franchise model, with which they conquered the world's audiences for two decades. As director of so many -- cats, Starlight, Les Mis, Chess, Sunset Boulevard surely Nunn must concur? Not so; or at least, not now.

"I think audiences have changed," he says, meditatively. "And the phenomenon of the long-running show might be a thing of the 20th century." To be replaced by what? Boutique shows containing a star, what else? We are in the auditorium of the Almeida Theatre, whose production, directed by Sir Trevor, is Ibsen's The Lady From the Sea, which a) features Natasha Richardson, and b) is a short run and already sold out.

The trend exploded with Nicole and her Viagra-esque performance in David Hare's The Blue Room at the Donmar. The combination of small theatre plus vast star dominating a slim production (The Blue Room, episodic in nature, made no gestures to comprehend a nation in the way that, say, Miss Saigon did) seemed wonderfully modern. …

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