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Butley (1974) More at IMDbPro »

2013 | 2011 | 2008

2 items from 2013

Richard Briers: the sweetest of men

18 February 2013 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - TV News | See recent The Guardian - TV News news »

Genial star of the sitcom The Good Life who impressed in a range of roles on stage

When he played Hamlet as a young man, Richard Briers, who has died aged 79 after suffering from a lung condition, said he was the first Prince of Denmark to give the audience half an hour in the pub afterwards. He was nothing if not quick. In fact, wrote the veteran critic Wa Darlington, he played Hamlet "like a demented typewriter". Briers, always the most modest and self-deprecating of actors, and the sweetest of men, relished the review, happy to claim a place in the light comedians' gallery of his knighted idols Charles Hawtrey, Gerald du Maurier and Noël Coward.

"People don't realise how good an actor Dickie Briers really is," said John Gielgud. This was probably because of his sunny, cheerful disposition and the rat-a-tat articulacy of his delivery. "You're a great farceur, »

- Michael Coveney

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Waiting in the wings: when off-stage characters take over

28 January 2013 9:06 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

From Simon Gray to Alan Ayckbourn, many playwrights have kept their most interesting roles out of sight – but very much in mind

Rowan Atkinson dominates the posters for a West End production opening this week – a wise calculation that the chance to see on stage the comedian internationally famous as Mr Bean is a major selling point. But another attraction of Quartermaine's Terms, in which Atkinson plays the title role of a baffled bachelor teacher, is the fact that other parts in the play require no actors at all.

The 1981 drama by the late Simon Gray is one of the strongest examples in modern theatre of the use of off-stage characters. Set in an English-language school for foreign students in Cambridge in the 1960s, the script calls for seven members of staff – including, in addition to Quartermaine, fussy principal Eddie Loomis, bluff senior tutor Henry Windscape and elementary conversation teacher Anita Manchip. »

- Mark Lawson

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2013 | 2011 | 2008

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