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Andrew Scott as Paul in Birdland at the Royal Court Theatre in London.

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God is dead!

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Maxine Peake and Katie West rehearsing for Hamlet

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Richard III company doing the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

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Jamie Parker and Clare Foster in Guys and Dolls at Chichester Festival Theatre. Photos by Roy Tan.

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Martin Freeman RichardⅢ

photo by Marc Brenner

These are brilliant! This show was so incredible. It’s a very special production, and not JUST because of Martin.

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First look: Roger Allam and Colin Morgan in Globe’s Tempest on screen (x)

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Achievement unlocked

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Ten Questions for… Ian Hallard

national-theatre:

Ian Hallard is currently appearing in Great Britian

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Billie Piper and Ian Hallard (Felix) in Great Britain. Photo by Johan Persson.

Who do you play in Great Britain?

There are a few of them – and given the play’s subject matter, they are all pretty disreputable individuals. I’m Jimmy, who roots through celebrities’ dustbins for ‘newsworthy’ information; Felix, who’s passing on the royal family’s phone numbers; and St John Flowers – a Tory spin doctor. In addition, I pop up as a bespectacled journalist, a police officer, and I’m also the voice of Bryn Wong – who has had a fling with the Commissioner of the Met.

Describe your character(s) in 3 words.

Jimmy – grubby, thick, mercenary.
Felix – pompous, fey, mercenary.
St John – wheedling, exasperated, mercenary.

Is there a scene you particularly enjoy performing?

The play has an abundance of hysterically funny lines and moments, but, in the final scene, I take particular satisfaction in hearing the audience’s derisive reaction to the pleas of innocence from Virginia White, the Free Press’s incompetent, horse-loving editor.

Who is your backstage hero?

That’s an invidious question – having to name just one! It’s a cliché but all the backstage team, from Shane our Company Manager, to the crew to my dresser, Laura, are wonderful. I’ll plump for Jo Nield, who is our Deputy Stage Manager. She spends the whole rehearsal process alongside us and is always so supportive, calm and in total control, and I always find it a bit sad that once the show opens, because she’s running all the technical cues from the box at the back of the auditorium, we rarely get to see her!

What’s the most memorable on-stage moment you’ve seen or been part of that has made a lasting impression on you?

Can I cheat and pick two? They were both moments that reduced me to tears for similar reasons. I saw The Winter’s Tale at the RSC when I was a teenager and I found the final scene with Hermione’s statue so unexpected and moving. Then Carousel at the Savoy in 2009 – when Billy Bigelow returns to Earth and is glimpsed momentarily by his widow – left me in bits and unable to speak for a good fifteen minutes afterwards. Both moments deal with mortality and bereavement and were just heartbreakingly poignant.

What’s your favourite spot at the NT?

It’s such an honour and a dream come true for an actor to work at the National Theatre, that I have to say, for me, it’s slap bang in the middle of the Lyttelton stage, listening to 900 people having hysterics as they watch the show.

If there was one play you would recommend and it was the only play someone would ever see, which would it be?

I was blown away by London Road, which I saw at the Cottesloe. It felt so fresh and genuinely innovative. The music was magnificent and the cast were phenomenal. It made me realise how rarely in theatre one hears characters speak as real people do, with all their natural speech patterns and hesitations. It was delightful to hear how much inherent humour there is in normal, everyday language. I’m looking forward to the film version immensely.

Do you have any pre-performance rituals?

A slice of cake from the canteen. I was a big fan of the Rocky Road slice and the date and polenta cake the last time I was here, but since then they’ve added a number of cupcakes to their selection which are giving them a run for their money.

What would be your dream role?

I played Bobby in Sondheim’s Company at drama school, so I’d love the chance to revisit the part now I’m the right age for it.

If you could watch a play with anyone – dead or alive – who would it be?

I think watching an original Shakespearean production with Elizabeth I would be pretty special. She’s a fascinating historical figure, and I imagine I’d feel a great temptation to observe her reactions rather than the play itself!