5 days in the life of ... Alex Jennings

The RSC actor juggles the roles of Benedick, Hamlet - and Dad

MONDAY: I woke up in a four-poster bed at Cliveden, in Buckinghamshire, the former country home of the Astor family. I had performed there on Sunday with Christopher Luscombe and June Whitfield. At Cliveden part of the deal is that they look after you very nicely. I had breakfast in the lap of luxury. Not every weekend is like that. It was also my son Ralph's birthday; he was eight, and had a cake with breakfast before embarking on a Lego submarine. We swam and stayed in the sauna and hot tub until lunchtime, then drove to London for an RSC performance of Much Ado About Nothing at the Barbican, in which I play Benedick. It was quite a good show; a very responsive audience. You get to know early on - you pinpoint a moment and if you get a response, you think 'We're going to be all right tonight'. If you don't, your heart sinks.

TUESDAY: I visited a sports and injury person who tried to solve my recurrent back problems. I was returning home from university 20 years ago and something went 'click' as I unpacked the car. It's been on and off ever since. I have to exercise quite a lot, which is slightly worrying. I was pummelled and pulled and massaged and punched, but I think I've finally found somebody who has worked out what it is. On stage, the adrenaline takes over, but sometimes I notice it. I'm playing Hamlet as well at the moment, and it's quite physical; you're on stage for four hours and you are knackered by the end of it, physically and mentally.

WEDNESDAY: It's been a busy week. At lunchtime I went to the Ivy for the launch of a BBC trilogy of Arena documentaries about Noel Coward, which is going to be shown over Easter. They have unearthed a lot of home movie footage that he took of his travels during the 1930s, which is fantastic. There were all sorts of people there; Sir John Mills; Sir Anthony Havelock- Allen, producer of the films made during the 1940s; Ronald Neame, cameraman on some of the films Coward made with David Lean; Coward's secretary; and Graham Payn, his companion. It was great to be involved. I came home and played with the children, then went to play Hamlet. How it went I can't remember; the performance tends to blend into the next.

THURSDAY: Played Hamlet twice, in a matinee and evening performance, so I was absolutely exhausted. We have a lie-down between shows, and I get up feeling a bit punchy before the second one. I don't do any special preparation; I just try to empty my head and see what happens, see what the words do. I have just read a book by David Mamet, called True or False, about good and bad acting, and I am trying to be simple and not to try so hard. It can pay dividends.

What's so wonderful about Hamlet is that you are never going to be definitive; you just have to try to tell the story in a clear and fresh way. Luckily, the play's pretty good so it supports you and there's always something else to be mined from it. I never particularly wanted to play the part. Adrian Noble, the RSC's artistic director, asked me; I was quite surprised but there was no possibility of saying no - it seemed slightly churlish and I knew I probably wouldn't get the opportunity again as I was fast approaching 40.

Tonight, we had a major technical glitch when something went wrong with the sound system. I broke a prop in a fit of pique in the wings - Hamlet's father's urn. I threw it at the table. I don't usually do that kind of thing ...

FRIDAY: Went to see my daughter Georgia, who's five, playing a dinosaur in her school play. Then off to play Hamlet again.

'Hamlet' and 'Much Ado About Nothing' are at the RSC Barbican Theatre, London EC2 (0171 638 8891).

Life and Style
tech

Sales of the tablet are set to fall again, say analysts

Environment
A Brazilian wandering spider
natureIt's worth knowing for next time one appears in your bananas
Life and Style
gaming

I Am Bread could actually be a challenging and nuanced title

News
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
tech

Company decides to go for simply scary after criticising other sites for 'creepy and targeted' advertising

News
The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised
people
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in the win over QPR
footballInternet reacts to miss shocker for Liverpool striker
News
news

Footage shot by a passerby shows moment an ill man was carried out of his burning home

Voices
Sol Campbell near his home in Chelsea
voices
News
Kimi the fox cub
newsBurberry under fire from animal rights group - and their star, Kimi
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

    SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

    £30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

    Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

    £50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

    IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

    £55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

    Day In a Page

    Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

    'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

    If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
    James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

    Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
    Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

    Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

    Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
    Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

    Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

    Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
    How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

    How to dress with authority

    Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
    New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

    New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

    'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

    The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
    Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

    Tim Minchin interview

    For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
    Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

    Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
    Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

    Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

    Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
    Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

    How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

    'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

    Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

    Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

    After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
    Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

    Terry Venables column

    Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
    The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

    Michael Calvin's Inside Word

    Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past