02 November, 2013


From Michael Coveney’s WhatsOnStage blog, ‘Superb BBC films celebrate the National; so does Edward Petherbridge’, (1st November):
As we all gear up for tomorrow night’s anniversary gala in the Olivier – I count myself lucky and privileged to have a ticket – which is broadcast live on BBC2, there’s just time to acknowledge another important contribution to the literature surrounding the occasion (no sign yet of Daniel Rosenthal’s “authorized” history): a reissue of Edward Petherbridge’s Slim Chances.
Petherbridge’s new sub-title – “NT 50: Personal, Partial, Unofficial” – is a treasure trove of wonderful stories, poems and memories of his time in Olivier’s company, from playing small parts in Othello and Royal Hunt to Ferdinand Gadd in Trelawny of the Wells and Guildenstern in Stoppard’s debut play; and then beyond to his participation in the Hall regime (he ran a company with Ian McKellen) and Trevor Nunn’s.
He’s particularly touching in conveying the downside of being an actor, the odd feeling of being lonely and undervalued in an otherwise happy ensemble, something Michael Blakemore doesn't quite catch in his own wonderful account of five years with Olivier, Stage Blood (Petherbridge had six with Sir).
“No job gave me a stronger sense of desolation, of being nothing” writes Petherbridge, “than standing in the plainest of 17th century garb with Christopher Timothy, on Dutch Courtesan nights, waiting to lay a carpet to give Billie Whitelaw somewhere to lounge.” Who’d be an actor, even at the National?
To read the post in full, click here.

Order a signed copy of this special edition of Slim Chances, complete with bonus 78-minute CD, from Peths Staging Post.

From the book: The Old Vic rehearsal room. Left to right: Gillian Barge, Frank Wylie (seated), Laurence Olivier, Michael Turner (in back), Edward Hardwicke, Margot Cunningham, EP, Kenneth Mackintosh. Photo by Chris Arthur