Sir Ian McKellen says he ‘likes a surprise’ as he laments theaters overlooking audiences with warning signs | Ents & Arts News


Sir Ian McKellen has said he is not a fan of how modern theater audiences are spoiled with sensitivity-sensitive warning signs.

The 84-year-old X-Men and Lord of the Rings star told Sky News ahead of the first night of the London transfer of his new play Frank and Percy: “Outside the cinemas the audience is being warned that there is a loud noise’, ‘there are flashing lights’, ‘there is a reference to smoking’, ‘there is a reference to death’…

“I like to be surprised by loud noises and outrageous behavior on stage.”

Should his co-star Roger Allam be worried?

The actor – best known for his roles in Endeavor and The Thick Of It – probably knows what he’s getting into as this isn’t the first time he’s worked with Sir Ian on stage.

In 2004 they shared a dressing room while performing in panto at the Old Vic’s production of Aladdin.

Sir Ian McKellen on the set of Frank and Percy.  Image: Jack Merriman
Image:
Sir Ian McKellen on the set of Frank and Percy. Image: Jack Merriman

Sir Ian McKellen and Roger Allam on the set of Frank and Percy.  Image: Jack Merriman
Image:
Sir Ian McKellen and Roger Allam on the set of Frank and Percy. Image: Jack Merriman

Almost 20 years later and this two-hander is quite different, described by Allam as “an old guy gay romcom” about two men who meet walking their dogs.

Explores grief, death and aging.

“When I read it, I just saw it as a comedy,” explains Sir Ian.

“I didn’t really think about it being a gay play, but of course it is.”

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Prominent LGBTQ campaigner Sir Ian believes the fact that audiences seem to “revel in” watching their romance unfold on stage suggests “that the world has actually become a better place over the last 10 years”.

Both actors feel that it is short-sighted that desire in the Middle Ages is a subject so rarely addressed by screenwriters in television, film or theatre.

As Sir Ian explains: “In this case, it’s grandparents having sex… and people are living longer and presumably having sex longer.

“[While] we all like to see young people and we remember what it was like… actually older people can be much more interesting than young people because they’ve been through a lot more.”

Certainly the case with Sir Ian, who has played arch villains, clever wizards and collected six Oliviers over the years.

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But what’s it like playing opposite him in “an old guy gay romcom”?

It seems there is a significant element of teasing…

Sir Ian gives a sharp jab to the ribs and says: “He’s fun to tease, is Roger.”

“Did you see that?” Allam pleads.

Frank and Percy is at The Other Palace, London until 17th December.


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