Of course as a huge fan, I had to gather some friends and head to see Ian McKellen On Stage. Having seen him on screen, on stage, and in interviews, I knew this would be a great show. Hearing this well travelled, acclaimed actor speak of his life and career was sure to be a treat.
With very simple stage design, just a few persian-style rugs strewn across the stage and a large travel box, the focus is definitely on Ian McKellen and his words. With funny quips and his unique attitude, he starts off with talking about the show itself, the idea behind it, and what we can expect for the rest of the evening. Ever charming and full of beautiful stories, it’s just such a delight to listen to this man.
Starting off with anecdotes from Lord Of The Rings, we are treated to seeing McKellen wield Glamdring on stage! And one lucky audience member in the stalls gets to go on stage and hold the sword himself and get a selfie with Ian McKellen! Well worth the ticket price, I’d say.
From early childhood stories to a history of how his career started out and how theatre has changed through the decades, every story is well told and gives a little insight into his life and work. It almost feels like having an intimate dinner conversation with an old friend. The open and personable attitude McKellen brings to the table definitely helps in this. It’s just wonderful listening to him remember important turning points in his life and laugh about all sorts of silly circumstances. For each story he retrieves a prop, set piece, or furniture item from the large box, filling the stage with lived history.
In the second half we get a little challenge. McKellen has brought the entire catalogue of Shakespeare plays and wants us all to name every single one. One by one they get shouted out and he picks up the corresponding book and gives us a little tale of his personal experience playing a character from the play, or even a soliloquy or short scene from it. This way we travel through the world of Shakespeare, watching McKellen build a very high stack of these plays on a small table. What a great idea to include the audience in this experience!
Charm, wit, talent, and character, he brings it all to the stage and provides a beautiful evening of stories and anecdotes. We all enjoyed it very much and felt like we’d experienced a wonderful piece of stage entertainment that was different to what is usually put on this stage, but definitely a little bit of theatre history! Full marks for this lovely evening of stories, six out of six rainbow sloths!