This highly intellectual and exquisitely written piece by Tom Stoppard was a real treat to work on, for its brain stimulating depiction of personality, science, culture and romance.
Once again this performance sees me multi-tasking. This time I was the assistant director and played the doubled up role of Gus/Augustus.
These characters are quite different from each other. For a start, as the play is set in two different time periods, the Regency and the present day, Augustus and Gus exist in each different zone respectively, one being the descendant of the other. Their personalities differ as well. Augustus is the cocky, arrogant, soon to be heir to the Sidley Park estate whilst Gus is a shy emotionally broken mute, touched by genius.
The majority of my preparation time was spent on Gus for two reasons. First of all as a mute he naturally has no lines which meant that to perform ‘in the round’ I had to really concentrate on my body language and the way I moved so that all of the audience could get a sense for Gus’ emotional state. The other reason was that I had to learn the basics of how to waltz for his final exit with his love interest, the blunt and almost loveless Hannah. Now bear in mind that I had never waltzed at all before this, so to suddenly have to do so in front of an audience of over one-hundred people was nerve-racking!
The Stoke Sentinel reviewed the production and the entire cast was praised for our characters. In my case they wrote:-
“…James Tomkinson totally captures the fragility of the emotionally damaged Gus…” – The Sentinel (March, 2014)
“Sex, literature and death at Sidley Park.” This has been a remarkable play to work on.