Sir Norm soundless and surreal. Edward Chapman upstaged but happy. The Early Bird.

8 Oct

I got to SEE the great man – at the premiere of “The Early Bird”. And I’ll never forget a little piece of business he did.

As Edward Chapman (“Mr Grimsdale”) was giving a long speech, with apparent casual unconcern, he ambled slowly off stage right. Then, just a few seconds later, he ambled slowly on – from stage LEFT!

It was clever, because he had obviously HARED across the stage, behind the backcloth, to create the surreal effect. But he’d done so SOUNDLESSLY and when he re-appeared, his breath was still even.

The audience roared with laughter – and even Edward joined in – not feeling at all upstaged by his friend.

Years later, I found myself onstage during a long speech by another actor – and I did the same thing. It got peals of laughter and threw the other actors completely off!

I felt a little guilty – not so much for the other actors – but because I’d PLAGIARISED the bit from Sir Norm – and as a play was in progress, I had no opportunity to ATTRIBUTE the bit. I suppose I could have mumbled, “Thanks, Norm” – but I didn’t think of it.

So NOW – thanks, Norm.

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