Review: Sunday Encounters – Anne Reid interviews Derek Jacobi, Theatre Royal Haymarket

A lovely way to spend a Sunday, a Sunday Encounter with Anne Reid interviewing Derek Jacobi at the Theatre Royal Haymarket

“That’s had Russell Crowe’s bum on it”

My first trip to the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s Sunday Encounters programme saw us watching Anne Reid interview Sir Derek Jacobi for a hugely enjoyable couple of hours. Co-stars on Last Tango in Halifax, their affection for each other was palpable from the off and clearly based in a shared wry sense of humour which kept the evening from ever getting too ‘luvvie’.

But if anyone has had the kind of career that allows them to take that term and thoroughly own it, it is Jacobi. A stage and screen veteran with over 50 years experience, it’s a constant race to pick up the names he drops in passing when referring to Laurence, Maggie, Peter, Judi, Ian…such is the gobsmacking range of his collaborators from across the highest echelons of British cultural life.In many ways, it felt like a worthy sequel to There’s Nothing Like A Dame.

What really strikes you though is just how humble he is. Throughout his questioning from Reid, he constantly referred to the luck that brought him so many of the opportunities that took him from Cambridge to Birmingham Rep to the new National Theatre and thence to stardom, rarely noting his extraordinary talents which got him through each of these stages.

With such a varied career, film and TV roles scattered among his many entries into the classical theatre canon, he was full of bon mots, wry observations and deliciously barbed comments on co-stars with botox, fawning table-reads or a problem with the drink (I don’t have a tag for Peter O’Toole…). It was also fascinating to hear him talk about his desire to do some new writing onstage (he turned down The Father) as incredibly he’s only done the one (he reckons he’s done 28 of Shakespeare’s plays though!). 

I suppose it was a little too much to hope for a rendition of a song from Reid and Jacobi’s album of duets and for myself, I’d’ve loved to hear some more from Anne Reid, maybe he could interview her in the next programme of events here… A generous helping of audience questions with fulsome answers rounded off a great evening though and now I’m looking at what other encounters I should book for.

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