A night with Timothy is stimulating
AFTER more than 50 years in the business, there aren't many theatres in the country in which Timothy West hasn't performed.
But, remarkably, Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre is one such venue, something he's been glad to rectify this week.
Timothy has been appearing in The Handyman, a thought-provoking, challenging play penned by Academy Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Ronald Harwood, of The Piano fame, in a run which continues tonight and tomorrow.
"I've performed in most theatres, but never the Everyman, though I did direct a play here in 1963, shortly before Pru (his wife, Fawlty Towers legend Prunella Scales) and I got married," he told The Buzz.
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"It's very different to how I remembered it. It's a lovely little theatre."
In his latest role, Timothy stars as Romka, the elderly Ukrainian odd-job man of Cressida and Julian Field, who live comfortably in the Sussex countryside.
When two police officers from the War Crimes Squad arrive, it raises the question of whether Romka is a gentle, beloved family friend or a hateful mass-murderer? And is there a limit on punishment?
"I just thought it was a fascinating play when I read it," said Timothy. "I like plays where there are lots of different arguments and everything is not so clear cut.
"This one starts off as a nice play with a family living comfortably somewhere in the Home Counties and then something happens which upends everything and everyone reacts with different attitudes."
But it's not just the characters in the play who react differently. Audiences too have differing opinions, which is something Timothy finds interesting.
"Some plays are very obvious in the way in which the audience will react, but not this one - and I like that."
He said: "Because we're going through a period where people are short of cash and worried about the future, a lot of producers seem to think they want nothing but jollity, but I don't think that's the case.
"What people really like is something that stimulates their brain and their feelings. I think they get that with this play."
Tickets to The Handyman cost from £12 to £24. To book, call 01242 572573 or log on to www.everymantheatre.org.uk.