Preview: Hello and Goodbye, Trafalgar Studios, London
Sibling rivalry in the slums of South Africa
Thursday 24 April 2008
For his latest role, Rafe Spall plays Johnny, a lonely young man struggling to escape from the dark shadow cast by his father. Fortunately for the actor son of Timothy Spall, it's not a case of art imitating life. The 25-year-old has been busy building a name for himself as the dim-witted DC Cartwright in Hot Fuzz and, on television, in A Room with a View (playing George to his father's Mr Emerson), followed by critically acclaimed turns in He Kills Coppers and as Frankie Howerd's lover in Rather You Than Me, opposite David Walliams.
Hello and Goodbye, an emotionally bruising two-hander about sibling rivalry, marks his bracing return to the stage. "It's a gift of a part but the downside is how tough it is," says Spall. "That's the reason I took it – I wasn't sure I was quite up to the challenge. It's very far outside my comfort zone."
One of Athol Fugard's earliest works, Hello and Goodbye has a semi-autobiographical, lyrical tone which sets it apart from the South African playwright's more famous clarion calls about apartheid, Sizwe Banzi is Dead and The Island.
Set in the slums of Port Elizabeth in 1965, it dramatises an intense night when Johnny, who has devoted his life to tending his invalid father, receives an unexpected – and unpleasant – visit from his long-lost sister, Hester (Saskia Reeves). "They're white trash, really," says Spall. "Johnny's got no friends, no life, no job. But there's something quite endearing about him."
Spall most recently appeared on stage in John Gabriel Borkman at the Donmar and Alaska at the Royal Court. "After that I swore I'd never do a play again. The nerves shredded my stomach. But I love doing plays, it's the biggest challenge of my profession."
Are his nerves worse when his father's in the audience? "It's like when you were in the school play, you'd get more nervous when your mum and dad were watching. But I've stopped asking my parents to opening night now – it's terrifying enough without them."
To 17 May (0870 060 6632)
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Martin Scorsese 'in shock and sorrow' after death on set of new film Silence
The secret joke hidden in Silence of the Lambs' most famous line
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia