Photo credit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vcwm7
Delicious long article on The Recruiting Officer in yesterday's Independent.
The odd couple: Mackenzie Crook and Mark Gatiss are back together again
Mark Gatiss and Mackenzie Crook, two of television's finest oddballs, are joining forces in a new production at the Donmar Warehouse.
- Its writer, George Farquhar, quit acting after he injured a fellow performer in a stage fight. He had better luck as a playwright; his Restoration comedy blockbusters included The Constant Couple (1700); The Twin Rivals (1702) and The Beaux' Stratagem (1707)
- The Recruiting Officer, a romping satire of love and war, replete with bed-hopping, fiancée-swapping and cross-dressing, was originally performed in London in 1706
- The Donmar production will be significant as the first show to be staged by the theatre's new artistic director, Josie Rourke, who recently took the helm from Michael Grandage following his 10-year tenure
- Gatiss: "I always wanted to do Restoration comedy," he says. "It seems like so much fun. I get to say 'Split me!'
- Gatiss was unknowingly preparing himself for his career from a tender age. Born in Sedgefield some five years before Crook, he was an avid reader of Sherlock Holmes, and an avid watcher of Doctor Who, for which he now also writes. "I did go to drama school, at Bretton Hall in Yorkshire, but it was such a bad course that we had to fall back on our own devices," he recalls. He and three fellow students – Reece Shearsmith, Steve Pemberton and Jeremy Dyson – created a live sketch show, The League of Gentlemen, "which we took to Edinburgh, won the Perrier Award and got ourselves a radio series"
- Gatiss made his name playing oddballs. "It's a cliché," he admits, "but it's true that all the fun lies in baddies, grotesques and comic roles. For me, the joy of The League was in the dressing up; the wigs and teeth. Now I get asked to play vicars all the time. I've only ever played one. I got offered three gay vicars in a day last year."
- It's no coincidence, of course, that his rise has been accompanied by a re-acceptance of the geek in popular culture, which can only be good for his career prospects. Doctor Who, for which Gatiss is partly responsible, has undoubtedly driven this resurgence. "Sci-fi and fantasy used to be a TV staple throughout my childhood," he agrees. "Then it just stopped dead. It was seen as culty, a minority interest. The massive success of Doctor Who has opened all those doors again. It's no longer to be sneered at; in fact, people get worried if you don't have genre credentials. Geek preoccupations have become incredibly mainstream – even the geek look is cool. I do get that slight feeling of 'my favourite band's too popular' when I hear people talking about these things and don't quite believe that they're real fans!"
- There is one geek ambition that he has yet to realise, however: his own action figure. "The toys I never had as a boy, because they didn't exist, are now taking over my life," he says. "There's an invasion of amazingly beautiful Doctor Who toys in my house. It's like crack. I've got about 30 daleks. When I was finally in Doctor Who as Professor Lazarus, they sent me a photo of a maquette they'd made for a figurine of the character. It was beautiful, but they make a series of maquettes before deciding which ones to manufacture and which to discard. And they never made mine!"
- Gatiss "It's important to please your inner eight-year-old. The things that used to make you happy tend to be the things that still make you happy. I've got massively back into collecting fossils like I did when I was a child. And I just bought my brother-in-law a telescope for Christmas, of the size and strength that I always wanted and never had. We went out into the back garden and looked up at Jupiter; it was profoundly moving, because all I ever wanted as a boy was to see Jupiter and its four main Galilean moons. They're like little diamonds."
Follow the link to the full article:
'The Recruiting Officer' is at the Donmar Warehouse, London WC2, from 9 February.