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)
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 3 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 4 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 5 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Spectre: Director Sam Mendes teases clips from upcoming James Bond movie
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
The Casual Vacancy finale review: Superb cast, luscious cinematography - shame about the confused ending
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut