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).

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree were established in 1986....

    Recruitment Genius: SAGE Bookkeeper & PA to Directors

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

    Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

    £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

    Day In a Page

    Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

    Making of a killer

    What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
    UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

    Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

    Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
    Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

    Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
    Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

    No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

    Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
    Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

    Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

    The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
    Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

    Something wicked?

    Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
    10 best sun creams for body

    10 best sun creams for body

    Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

    Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
    Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

    There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

    The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map