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Cafe highlights Nigel Havers and Nicola Benedetti

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Clare English Clare English | 11:50 UK time, Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Gazing at the schedule for this week's Culture Café, I spotted TWO theatrical items. Something odd there, I thought. Two slots in one show? In the end I needn't have worried as my producer Amraine really was straddling opposite ends of the dramatic spectrum. It all started with a jaunty chat with the ultimate smoothy, Nigel Havers - a household name thanks to numerous appearances on TV plays and shows (memorably in Corrie as a male escort!) Now he's the leading man in a play on in Aberdeen all week called BASKET CASE. It involves an ailing pooch and its owners who have divorced - before you get too misty eyed, this is a comedy. Mr Havers says he's having a ball being back on stage where he's hooked up with old friends and generally terrifies himself before each performance. Perhaps, I mused, TV was less stressful. Did he prefer that? Actually he wasn't so sure and explained that when he's in front of a live audience there is an added advantage - no director can interrupt him! It's in the theatrical domain that he has total control of the character and how to play him. As for telly appearances, fear not Havers fans, he's slap bang in the midst of filming, and its not just ANY old show. Around Christmas, he joins the ranks of the multi award winning ITV drama, Downton Abbey. That means strapping on stiff Edwardian collars (and matching stiff upper lip) for scenes shared with the likes of Hugh Bonneville and the very wonderful Dame Maggie Smith (a mate apparently, - as is another Dame, Judi Dench. Name dropper.. and why not?) You get the sense that acting is a bit of a lark for Nigel Havers - he makes it sounds as if he stumbles in and blunders his way through the lines, not quite believing he's managed to get away with it for so long. Frankly, it takes a huge amount of talent to make acting look and sound that effortless. Yes, he is most definitely, a bona fide smoothy.


Huge intellectual creativity was required to come up with the premise for our second dramatic item on the Culture Café. Matthew Lenton's production SATURDAY NIGHT would in some ways, be ideal for Mr Havers and his self-confessed stage fright. There are NO words to learn - it's action that speaks louder as the audience observe and extrapolate meaning from the performance. This is theatre where the rules are being rewritten and Matthew Lenton's work continually pushes the boundaries. I haven't seen SATURDAY NIGHT but after hearing all about it, I like the sound of it. Time permitting, a trip to the Tramway in Glasgow beckons.

I guess we could claim a THIRD dramatic element in Tuesday's lineup when we discussed Stewart Laing's latest project, a recreation or simulation of a 19th century Parisian Salon at the Traverse. Sadly, we are all too late to get tickets - it's a sell out! Bang goes a night out dressed in a Victorian hoop dress, chatting merrily about matters of substance with some bright sparks. I'll just have to console myself with some beautiful music from another of our Café guests. Nicola Benedetti was nearly dead on her feet when she showed up at our studios - so many international concerts, rehearsals etc. but she was glowing with pride when talking about her newly released CD, "ITALIA". It's taken her off in a Baroque direction and she's delighted by that. You can hear it too.. we only got to play the tiniest sliver of music but within the space of a minute and a half, I was in a different state of mind. Bellissima!


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