In the eye of the beholder
By Michelle Newman
For Nigel Havers, returning to the stage is a bit like a homecoming of sorts. The actor, who started his career in theatre and has been in the industry for more than 40 years, will take on the role of Serge in Yasmina Reza’s Art, when the Tony-award winning play is performed at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin, later this month.
“It is different,” Nigel says of the contrasts between acting on stage and TV, adding that it’s ‘hard work.’
“But it does come naturally to me. I don’t think, ‘Oh this is theatre, I have to do it differently’ I’m just aware of it.”
Nigel, who has been to Ireland many times before but has never performed in the city, is excited about the upcoming project.
“I’d never been to this beautiful theatre, so I’m looking forward to that,” he says of the Gaiety.
“Art is very interesting and it’s very quick. It’s one hour and 20 minutes with no interval, but it’s a comedy. It’s funny because people read it and say ‘Is that really a comedy?’ but it is and people laugh a lot, but you won’t really get that by reading it until you get it off the page.”
As the title suggests, Art is about a painting, a white painting at that. Alongside Nigel, who says rehearsals are ‘going great’ Art also stars Stephen Tompkinson and Denis Lawson.
“The elephant in the room is a white painting. How many white paintings have you seen in your life? There are a few around the world, painted by very famous artists, it’s not as if it’s a novel idea,” Nigel says.
“That’s how it all kicked off; a friend of Yasmina’s rang her up and said, ‘You won’t believe what I’ve just done; I’ve bought a white painting for a lot of money.’
This is a tough play to do every night. There’s a lot going on, so there’s no rest and there’s nowhere to hide in this play,” he continues.
“And things go wrong sometimes, not that the audience will ever know. Once you get onto that stage you can’t concentrate on anything else so you have no other thing going on in your mind.”
After Art, which runs until June, Nigel laughs and says he plans to ‘go to bed and have a rest for a few weeks.’
“I don’t want to think that far ahead. I’ve got something in July and I’m quite busy really.”
And is there anything he would still like to try his hand at in the future?
“I don’t think there is,” he says.
“I’m still game to do anything really.”