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)
GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride
FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head
Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treattv
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Chelsea victory parade mocked on Twitter as 'tens of fans' pack the streets of London
- 2 Preston fan who appeared to snatch Jermaine Beckford's shirt from eight-year-old boy identified and says: 'the truth will come out'
- 3 Johnny Depp facing 10 years in jail for illegally bringing dogs to Australia
- 4 US warned by Chinese media to stop meddling or 'war will be inevitable'
- 5 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
Stolen Instagram photo sells for $90,000
Glastonbury lineup 2015: The Women's Institute to make debut appearance at Somerset festival
Twin Peaks series 3: Man behind the 'dark, cloying and obsessive' original soundtrack returns to work with David Lynch
Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 7: Why two of the show's most iconic characters just met
The story of a cancer survivor who went on to create her own line of empathic, cliché-free greetings cards
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people