This post started life back in June from a question @polyg asked while we were waiting for a play to start. And of course it needed some thought before answering, nearly three months worth in fact.
There are plenty of great actors I enjoy watching on stage but the play and the role often informs the choice of going to see it.
So this has to be about, who I would rush out to see, regardless of what they were in. Well no thought for my first choice, but the remaining four...
1. Ben Whishaw - First saw him in Leaves of Glass at the Soho Theatre in 2007 after being mesmerised by him on screen in Perfume: Story of Murderer. I've seen everything he's done on stage ever since (and TV and Film, yes even the shorts) plus a recording at the V&A archive of his Hamlet from 2004.
I flew to New York to see The Pride - well I'd never been before so it was the perfect excuse and people go for less ie shopping. He's never disappointed me, he always makes interesting choices and he never fails to convince in his performances. He's one of those talents that says just as much without words and I always find my eye wandering over to where ever he is on stage just to see what he is doing.
Plays seen:Leaves of Glass, ...some trace of her, rehearsed reading of Ice Cream, Cock & The Pride
2. Benedict Cumberbatch - BC had been bimbling along at the back of my conscience for a while, mainly for his TV roles. It's funny because he's become intrinsically linked with the character of Sherlock now and yet he first dazzled me in After The Dance at the National Theatre. Emotionally repressed is not easy to pull off without alienating the audience but you could feel his inner turmoil.
And then there was Frankenstein. Such a spectacle requires big performances.
I fear his next stint at the theatre maybe some time off as his dance card seems full with film and TV engagements at the moment.
Plays seen: After The Dance, Frankenstein (creature), Frankenstein (Victor)
He's doing a splendid job in the BBC series Merlin but having seen some of the small film projects he's done outside that together with his stage work I know there is a lot more in him that we've yet to see. He also doesn't seem scared of taking on very different roles.
Plays seen: Vernon God Little and Our Private Life
4. Richard Clothier A newcomer to the list as I first saw him in July playing Richard III at Hampstead with the Propeller Theatre Company. His performance as the villain with a smirk blew me away and I ended up booking to see RIII again. He had a relatively minor part in the sister production Comedy of Errors but had such a stateliness on stage that I was always looking to see what he was up to.
He's one of the those actors who's talent is disproportionally greater than his fame which is good in some respects because it means he's more likely be doing productions in smaller theatres which are far more preferable. But I can't help thinking that it is a shame not more people have got to see just what a brilliant actor he is.
Plays seen: Richard III and Comedy of Errors.
5. Daniel Radcliffe Controversial choice I know but he's an actor I admire. I trotted along to see Equus in part because the story sounded interested but also because I really didn't think Harry Potter would cut it on the stage. I was expecting a car crash and I wanted to be there to see. It's cruel, I know, but he had the last laugh and proved me wrong. So impressed was I that I bought another ticket immediately.
Playing Alan Strang, with that scene, as your first theatre outing when all you've really done is act in a kids movie franchise was a very brave move and could have gone horrible wrong and I admire his pluck.
Radcliffe seems like a determine and driven young man. I haven't seen his latest show How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying what with it being on Broadway and a musical but it takes a certain amount of dedication, training and guts to be able to do what he has done.
I don't doubt he'll be back in the West End at some point and I will certainly be doing everything I can to make sure I'm there to see what it is.
Plays seen: Equus
This list has been incredibly difficult to narrow down to five so I'm going to have to include a few that nearly made it:
Samuel Barnett - First saw him in The Man at the Finborough and most recently in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Certainly an actor I keep an eye out for.
David Tennant - I'm coming to the conclusion that I'm more interested in Tennant's stage work rather than his TV. As I'm sure I've mentioned on this blog before I don't watch Dr Who. His Hamlet felt like a real event and his Benedict in Much Ado, together with the rest of the cast, changed my mind that Shakespeare's comedies could be really funny.
Andrew Scott - First came to my attention playing opposite Mr W in Cock. He's popped up in a few things since then and like Mr Clothier above I think his talent is greater than his fame. I think his performance in the Emporer and the Galilean has been understated. Another actor I'll be keeping one eye out for.
Antony Sher - Another recent addition, last week in fact in Broken Glass. Had heard lots of great things about Mr Sher but anyone that can make themselves seem physically smaller just through their acting gets my vote. Can't wait to see him do something else.
Please feel free to abuse or agree with my choices