31 March 2013


Those of you in the UK, or who subscribe to The Sunday Times online, can read Bryan Appleyard’s interview with Edward in Culture this Easter Sunday – ‘Lear and yet so far’.

There is also an appreciation of My Perfect Mind by Kathleen Riley at Vulpes Libris.

25 March 2013


We had now arrived in the heart of the big city, and as usual it was almost a heart of darkness. But it looked like a big city, there was no denying that. Here, emphatically, was the English seaport second only to London. The very weight of stone emphasised that fact. And even if the sun never seems to properly rise over it, I like a big city to proclaim itself a big city at once.
J. B. Priestley, English Journey (1934) 

The promised film featuring images captured, whilst on tour, of Liverpool’s teeming pool of life.

Last week My Perfect Mind travelled to Salisbury where, as in Liverpool, I lighted upon a Wimsey connection.

Photo by EP

The blue plaque, outside the Cathedral Hotel in Milford Street, reads: ‘Dorothy L. Sayers Godolphin School 1909-1911 wrote in her novel “Whose Body?” that Lord Peter Wimsey lunched here.’ The passage alluded to is:
Portrait of Dorothy L. Sayers.
Sir William Oliphant Hutchison. NPG
It was its comparative proximity to Milford Hill that induced Lord Peter to lunch at the Minster Hotel rather than at the White Hart or some other more picturesquely situated hostel. It was not a lunch calculated to cheer his mind; as in all Cathedral cities, the atmosphere of the Close pervades every nook and corner of Salisbury, and no food in that city but seems faintly flavoured with prayer-books. As he sat sadly consuming that impassive pale substance known to the English as ‘cheese’ unqualified (for there are cheeses which go openly by their names, as Stilton, Camembert, Gruyère, Wensleydale or Gorgonzola, but ‘cheese’ is cheese and everywhere the same), he inquired of the waiter the whereabouts of Mr. Crimplesham’s office. (Whose Body?, 1923)
After Easter, which threatens to be far from springlike, we open at the Young Vic for a London run that has already been extended by a week. As I muse by the fireside …  on the show and Lear and the journey still ahead, I leave you with one of the marginalia in Keats’s Folio copy of King Lear:
How finely is the brief of Lear sketched in this conference [Goneril and Regan’s discussion of Lear’s rejection of Cordelia] – from this point does Shakespeare spur him out to the mighty grapple – ‘the seeded pride that hath to his maturity blowne up’ Shakespeare doth scatter abroad on the winds of Passion, where the germs take buoyant root in stormy Air, suck up lightning sap, and become voiced dragons—self will and pride and wrath are taken at a rebound by his giant hand and mounted to the Clouds—there to remain and thunder evermore …

18 March 2013


A new film blog is imminent and will feature images captured by Edward on tour in Liverpool. Stay tuned!

Liverpool Docks. Photo by EP

This week My Perfect Mind travels to Salisbury.


04 March 2013


Theatre life, with its quarrels and muddles and vanities, is a form of lunacy: but the moonbeams of that lunacy can be of a radiance that does indeed reward. The occasional miracle of the theatre its inhabitants know: indeed, by it they live.
Ivor Brown,  Shakespeare

Sunset, Drake’s Wharf, Royal William Yard.
Photo by EP

Sunday morning I have just added to my too heavy luggage by buying the huge bulk of The Sunday Times at Plymouth railway station. I have a very large bruise on my upper right thigh though the sensitivity is located in my buttock bone. The acupuncturist, a Mr Ding, dealt with it during the last of three visits for my traumatized left kneecap. Mr Ding rang the right bells I trust, but I have been climbing rather than hopping onto buses in Plymouth, and oh so slowly wrenching myself out of taxis like a genuine geriatric for the last weeks.

I collapsed twice back in Wellington, New Zealand nearly six years ago. Paradoxically the stroke must have engineered two perfect stage falls – not a bruise nor a troubled joint; well I think I cut my head. However it was the other night on stage in Plymouth, in pursuit of a convincing dramatic recreation of the very same stroke, that, inexpertly, I fell too heavily on my arse, having already ten days before fell off the platform whilst entering Lear’s hovel during rehearsal.

I suspect Doctor Theatre has been every bit as good as Mr Ding, better perhaps at allowing me to prance up and down and even attempt an autumn leaf in the wind on Michael Vale’s sheer white steep incline of a worthy scaffold. The good Doctor’s endorphins, or whatever he induces, faithfully took effect nightly at the five-minute call.

Me age twenty-two.
Gisborne Photo News
Sunday evening I met a middle-aged man on the railway platform this morning, who had been a touring member of a band in his youth. He was off to Brighton to give some lectures and remembered not at all fondly his days of one-night international gigs and lots of alcohol. He asked how I found touring ‘at your age’. This sort of thing I get a lot now; people even ask me ‘Do you still do any acting?’ It surprises me, since, even struggling with rather too much luggage and the gnawing knee and buttock, essentially I feel I’m the same Petherbridge who went on tour to New Zealand in 1958 or with Trelawny of the ‘Wells’ in 1965 (a rave review I see in today’s Sunday Times for the new Donmar revival of the dear old play, ‘with’, it is claimed, ‘some most respectful additions and ornamentations’). 

As Ferdinand Gadd with Louise Purnell (Rose Trelawny)
and Pauline Taylor (Imogen Parrott).
Photo by Angus McBean

Critic and novelist Christopher Hart has fallen for the Victorian theatrical glories of the play completely. Clearly Arthur Wing Pinero’s ‘great achievement’ creates as much affection now in at least one critic’s heart as it did in my twenty-seven-year-old heart when it provided me with my first good part at the National all those eons ago. I feel I could don the wig and yellow suit designed for my Ferdinand Gadd by Motley and go on, given a day or two to let out the waist a touch and brush up the lines: ‘Avonia, there’s something to lay hold of here. I’ll think this over. … I’ll play it!’ 

With Maggie Smith as Avonia.
Photo by Zoe Dominic

Tuesday we head to Liverpool ...

‘Have Lear, will travel’.
Rehearsal photo by KR

Read the first crop of reviews of My Perfect Mind here. And view a series of production shots on Flickr.