A Londoner's Diary; Where a Hit, There's a They Not in of Les Miserables' Sir Trevor Nunn on Surviving 'Hamlet' and the Night Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson Silenced Joe Allen's

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 30, 2004 | Go to article overview

A Londoner's Diary; Where a Hit, There's a They Not in of Les Miserables' Sir Trevor Nunn on Surviving 'Hamlet' and the Night Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson Silenced Joe Allen's


Byline: TREVOR NUNN

Preview performances of my new production of Hamlet the Old Vic. It's a gruelling schedule for everybody, rehearsing all day and performing at night, and our collective nerves are further tested by massively loud and persistent road drills machine-gunning all day just outside the building. We started rehearsal last month in a church hall in a leafy side street Hammersmith, and on the same a roadwork crew turned up right outside the window and drilled deafeningly morning and afternoon until the day before we left. 'They need to finish today,' I joked to the company, 'so they can move their drilling gear over to the Old Vic.' The hilarity at my painfully accurate prophecy has given way venomous questioning - 'What hell are they doing? Digging a new entrance to the Channel Tunnel?' No, they have made a massive traffic-calming speed bump, in a one-way sidestreet with a traffic light 20 yards away. The rumour that councils spend all their remaining allocation on any old thing in March and April to get of the money just might be true.

After the show, and a bit of post mortem, I am once again looking for somewhere to For the capital of Cool Britannia, it's extraordinary how few late-night restaurants there are. I have spent hundreds late nights over the years in Joe Allen's in Covent Garden, which has become a kind of informal club for the West End entertainment profession, but I was never so convinced about the restraint of English as the night when into this cellar bistro walked Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Of course many forkfuls were stopped on their way to mouths wide open in a collective rictus of amazement, as two of the most legendary people in the world squeezed through to their table.

But not one person in the packed joint asked them for an autograph or to be photographed with them.

Mind you, nobody left either. But tonight I went to a brilliant little Italian restaurant called L'Angolo on King Street, W6, run by a delightful young couple who promised to stay open for us. The place was empty when we arrived, around 11.30pm, but another ten new customers came in before midnight struck. I rest my case.

To Salzburg, Mozart's birthplace, jostling with Tyrolean hats and lederhosen at the airport, reminding me that I am in Sound of Music country.

I am making the day trip to present the design of Peter Grimes, the Britten masterpiece I am directing at the Festspielhaus next Easter. Could there be a more exciting project, Simon Rattle conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in the pit, the performance to be televised before joining the repertoire of the Met in New York? …

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