There is little better on this planet than making a room full of people laugh. It is an addiction that started when I was 10 years old, and not one that I am willing to give up.
I have just finished my first full Edinburgh Fringe, helping to fill the Assembly Gardens’ new Spiegeltent – with laughter. A daunting task, when Al Murray the pub landlord, has just been raising the roof of the venue before you. (It can be quiet intense – performing in tents)
This Spiegeltent (called the Palais Du Variété) was amazing – hand built by a group of Belgian craftsman, and with a £800,000 price tag – it has a luxurious, bohemian, cabaret feel – a bespoke wooden theatre in the round, walled with mirrors, so that each smiling face becomes infinitely reflected.
My face was certainly beaming when Les Enfants Terribles paid me the greatest compliment any actor can receive – when they offered to re-employ me. So I have been back reprising the role I helped create – Gaston Garceau,
the silent (but deadly) master of mime. He is one of a macabre cast of characters in a show that is Cluedo meets Burlesque – ‘The Vaudevillains’. It has brought in some lovely reviews:
“…the best show in town … at home on any West End or Broadway stage…”
5* – Aisling McGuire, TV Bomb
“…flawless, a masterpiece well worth catching before the end of the Fringe….”
5* – Katie Mckenzie, Edinburgh Festivals Magazine
However, the review of which I’m most proud still comes from Matthew, aged 6, from Layston School. After we brought a TIE show to his school with SNAP Theatre he wrote:
“I’ve just seen ‘Catch A Falling Star’ and I thought it was better than Harry Potter”
It has been an honour working among such a talented group of people on ‘The Vaudevillains’. All the cast play multiple instruments, one even taught himself ventriloquism for the show.
Learning new things is one of the best things about being an actor. For ‘The Lion King’, I spent time at Colchester zoo, learning how to be a hyena.
For SNAP Theatre it was Whipsnade, learning how to be a bear with a sore head. I’ve even visited a farm in my desire to play a realistic Fordson 1932 N-type tractor. I learned how to march to play Sergeant Fred Odd in ‘Whisky Galore’, I was taught mask by Strangeface Theatre Company,
mime by Oli Lansley and James Seagar at LET, and puppetry by Disney’s Will Pearce and John Stefaniuk. Candida Caldicot (now at the RSC) taught me to play descant recorder, plus at NTC I learned how to play the spoons and harmonica and it is also where Gillian Hambleton taught me to play the flowerpots.
Playing the fool, however, I learned all by myself.
Philip will be part of ‘23 Submarines’ this weekend (an original site specific piece for Icon Theatre) and is looking forward to 6 weeks at the Amba Hotel, Charing Cross, playing Manuel in ‘Faulty Towers The Dining Experience’