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).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
News
Rob Lowe
peopleRob Lowe hits out at Obama's snub of Benjamin Netanyahu
Sport
football
News
Davies (let) says: 'Everybody thought we were having an affair. It was never true!'
people'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
Arts and Entertainment
Over their 20 years, the band has built a community of dedicated followers the world over
music
News
Staff assemble outside the old City Road offices in London
mediaThe stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century at Britain's youngest paper
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

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us