Camden News - by SIMON WROE Published: 7 August 2008
Simon Ryeson as the Would-Be Gentleman
The cast is crocked – but the show must go on!
TO lose one member of your theatre company might be regarded as a misfortune – to lose three, as the Kentish Town-based troupe Giant Olive did this week, smacks of carelessness. When the lead actor dropped out sick just three days before Moliere’s The Would-Be Gentleman opened at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Gaisford Street, it looked like the ill-fated production would never see the light of day. To compound their woes, their second lead quit and one of their costume designers was robbed, leaving her unable to finish the clothes, all in the same week.
But instead of cancelling their first-ever production, the fledgling company insisted the show must go on.
Producer George Sallis will now play the role of the fencing master in the French Restoration comedy about a tradesman who tries every method possible to become a gentleman, which opened on Tuesday evening.
The boots of the would-be gentleman were also filled at the eleventh hour by actor Simon Ryeson.
Speaking just a few hours before the first night, Mr Ryeson described his mood as “panicked, strong, weak, nervous and impervious”.
He added: “The script has not been out of my hand since I got hold of it on Friday night, apart from when I’m in the shower. “I haven’t even counted the lines – if I did I think I’d scare myself.”
Mr Ryeson, 47, said “sheer stupidity” had made him agree to perform at such short notice, adding: “But you don’t want to let the show go down.”
An old leather-bound book, which his character reads to improve himself, will have his lines pasted into it.
Mr Sallis will go on stage to announce the news before each performance so that audiences don’t judge Mr Ryeson’s stammers and pauses too harshly.