The actor's ego is a fragile thing. It needs to be cosseted, massaged, given the odd boost from time to time. John Constable, playwright and poet, knows this and has come up with the perfect ruse to attract an A-List star to his new play – he's looking to cast the role of God.
Constable began writing The Southwark Mysteries more than a decade ago. The full version has been performed once, at Shakespeare's Globe in 2000. Now, on the 10th anniversary of that performance, Constable is staging his Judgement Day epic at Southwark Cathedral. With 70 performers primed and ready to go, there's just one role left to fill.
Prospective Gods need a sense of humour and an ability to poke fun at themselves. A little light self- mockery is a small price to pay for being creator of the universe, right? "It's not every day you get asked to play God in Southwark Cathedral," agrees Constable. He's already approached Simon Callow ("He's a big actor. And he's got humour."). Also on the white-haired wishlist is Michael Caine, South London born and bred. "He'd be rather good. We could rewrite the scene, 'My. Name. Is. Yahweh'..."
A quick straw poll at the offices of The Independent offices revealed some other strong runners in the race to play the Lord. Morgan Freeman (has form in the role but brings hefty travel expenses); Bill Nighy (not much in the Bible to suggest God was sardonic. Or that he wore black-rimmed spectacles); Judi Dench (equal opportunities); Brian Blessed (no need for microphones); Richard Harris (Dumbledore is practically a divine being, but sadly departed); Danny Dyer (a joke, I hope). And the favourite? Timothy Spall. He'd be a lovely God.
The Southwark Mysteries, Southwark Cathedral, London SE1, 22-24 April (020 7367 6700; Southwarkmysteries.co.uk)