Peter Hall was also co-director, albeit a mostly absent one, with Alan Ayckbourn for the latter’s hit comedy play, Bedroom Farce, in which Michael Kitchen was one of the six original castmembers. In this marvelous video from the National Theatre Ayckbourn talks of rehearsing the play and how all the actors doubted their own abilities in the weeks leading up to the premiere:
By the time we got to Birmingham, the cast was suicidal…
I think every single one of them, including Joan Hickson, the great Joan Hickson, and Michael Kitchen – wonderful cast – they all came up to me and said, “I know I wasn’t the first choice*. Uh, but, uh, I want you to know that I’m- I’m rotten at comedy. I’ve never- I’ve never liked doing comedy. Uh, and uh, I was so sorry, I’m letting down your play, and uh, I’m rubbish.”
*Ralph Richardson and Peggy Ashcroft were on the original wish-list.
Hard to imagine that Michael Kitchen with his superb comic timing once thought he couldn’t do comedy. It hadn’t occurred to me that Bedroom Farce was indeed his first major foray into comedy. Thank goodness the Birmingham audience went barmy on opening night and Michael Kitchen went on to many more roles that showcased his comedic talents.
(Also on the photostage.co.uk site, photos of Michael Kitchen in Romeo and Juliet.)
Michael Kitchen, Rowena Miller/Kitchen, and their son, Jack, attend Tom Stoppard’s birthday party at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London on July 1.
He’s gotten his thirty-something figure back.
Michael Kitchen and his wife were also photographed together at the 1994 BAFTA Awards where he was a best actor nominee for To Play the King.
A find via the Foyle’s War Appreciation Society and tumblr, Michael Kitchen and Joanna Lumley, the latter captured in this photo blowing a kiss with The Greatest himself, are among the celebrities in the audience at the taping of Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Hits in London on June 5, 1979.
MK at 5:03 and 14:14.
MK at 6:47, 18:22, and 20:31.
Michael Kitchen sitting with his arms crossed again next to Joanna Lumley and her son at Sotheby’s Stars Auction in 1981.
Not a dress rehearsal I gather.
Bedroom on the right was Nick and Jan’s.
In costume in his pj’s.
Photos above from the app, “50 Years at the National Theatre”, released by the National on the occasion of its half-century anniversary. Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce, described by the playwright as having “everything about bedrooms but copulation, something which I believe is hardly practiced in the British bedroom anyway,” premiered at the NT in 1977 with Michael Kitchen in the role of Nick. A phenomenal hit, the play is credited with reversing the fortunes of the organization during a difficult period:
The National was at one of its low ebbs – it had had a lot of technical problems and a lot of bad press, and people were asking, ‘Why is all the national funding going to this?’ I think what Bedroom Farce did at the time – which was really nice – was to provide the building, if not with its first, certainly with one of its earliest big hits. It certainly lifted the morale: it was during that terrible period of the strikes, and all that business with pickets. There had been a lot of very ugly feeling around.”
– quote by Alan Ayckbourn from his official website
Theater flyer for the play:
Robert Cushman wrote in The Observer (Mar. 20, 1977):
The ritziest room is occupied by the creamily witty Polly Adams, and by Michael Kitchen, not hitherto my idea of a light comedian, who plays a brilliant variation on his usual thrusting young executive, this one being laid up with a bad back. His misadventures (it hurts when he moves and people keep disturbing him) raise the loudest laughs of the evening.
When the play opened on Broadway in 1979, MK was one of two original cast members who didn’t reprise their respective roles, but he did return for the 1980 ITV broadcast, also a huge success. How fun it would be to watch MK act out the antics of a “self-important businessman” writhing in pain from a pulled back muscle. There are 11 color photos from the TV production on the RexFeatures site.
(In the 2002 London revival, Nick was played by Nigel Lindsay, presumably with a better accent than the pseudo-Texan one he adopted as Clayton Del Mar in High Castle.)
Quite a feat that during the spring/summer 1977 season at the Lyttelton Theatre, Michael Kitchen played Nick in Bedroom Farce while also portraying Trotsky in State of Revolution, two roles that couldn’t have been more different.
From my weekend reading. First it’s “awkward”, now it’s “not the easiest”. Don’t know how much of the above is exaggeration, but it sure grabbed my attention. Michael Kitchen (playing another jealous kidnapper) on the verge of storming off a set? This is a rather more irreverent take than what I’ve come to expect from those who have worked with MK. The excerpt is from the book, Him & Me, an amusing collection of anecdotes coauthored by comedian Jack Whitehall and his father, Michael Whitehall, who produced LWT’s comedy drama series, The Good Guys, in the early 90’s. MK appeared in the episode, Old School Ties, and apparently didn’t appreciate having to deal with his young costar’s lack of professionalism. Perhaps he was annoyed because it was preventing him from returning home sooner to his own own four-year-old Jack.
If Mr. Whitehall’s suspicion is correct, it’s certainly not evident on screen, as some of MK’s most affecting scenes have been with children, and horse riding aside, he’s shared a few pretty memorable albeit brief moments with live animals — the Longhorns in Love Song, the geese in Dandelion Dead:
and, of course, the adorable Westie that his character didn’t find adorable at all in Mobile:
(Is it acting or is it real?)
As for Foyle’s War, there were the couple of dairy cows. Didn’t cramp MK’s style at all as far as I can tell:
Given MK’s experience with Jack Whitehall, though, I do wonder now whether Foyle’s little chat with Jimmie was another one of MK’s brilliant ideas:
(Interesting that Anthony Horowitz is included in the book’s acknowledgements.)
British Columbia’s Knowledge Network has posted on its website some publicity stills of MK/Foyle in stunning super high resolution. Also on the site, in response to a viewer’s question, they note that FW S9 won’t be available to them until fall of 2015, hinting at a broadcast date for North America.
Also on the Press Association Images site was this photo, which I have seen before in media outlets but never knew the occasion on which it was taken. Turns out it is from the 2000 South Bank Show awards at The Savoy Hotel in London. (You guessed right, pdx144.)
Came across a few photos I’d not seen before of Michael Kitchen filming Sunflower in St. Patrick’s Close outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin back in Dec. 2012.
One more showing him ducking from gun shots.
Romeo and Juliet, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1986/87
Michael Kitchen as Mercutio dances with his partner at the ball before they both end up in the hot tub.
Mel Gussow of The New York Times wrote:
And from actor Antony Byrne in The Northern Echo:
I also remember going to Newcastle Theatre Royal and seeing Romeo and Juliet with Michael Kitchen as Mercutio and it was a Michael Bogdanov production and the company brought a Ferrari on stage. Kitchen was playing an electric guitar and he jumped off a balcony into a swimming pool. You look at that and think, ‘I’ll have a little bit of that please’.
“Adults hated this show. Adolescents –… [who] packed the galleries, unable to afford ticket prices in the RST’s stalls — loved it.” – A Companion to Shakespeare and Performance, p. 342
More detailed notes on the production in Shakespeare in Production: Romeo and Juliet.
The 1986 production of Romeo and Juliet by the Royal Shakespeare Company, nicknamed “Alfa-Romeo and Juliet” by Michael Billington of The Guardian, must have been a blast for audience members and actors alike.
From a review posted on The Mighty Bean:
The street fight between the mature, sozzled bachelor Mercutio (Michael Kitchen) and the sure-footed, savage and leather-clad Tybalt (Hugh Quarshie) provided one of the production’s dramatic highlights. It was portrayed more as the result of their respective vanities rather than the product of a long-standing, festering hatred with Mercutio leaping onto Tybalt’s car to avoid getting hit – then Tybalt stopping the fight to check for potential chips in his paintwork!
From the filmscoremonthly forum:
I saw him on stage in Newcastle upon Tyne 20 years ago, playing Mercutio in the RSC’s Romeo & Juliet of that season. It was set in a more modern-day Verona, and the famous fight scene was based around a car of the time that was on stage. In one hilarous bit of physical comedy, Kitchen broke off the aerial to stab Tybalt (Hugh Quarshie). Of course, it telescoped against Tybalt’s chest, leaving the audience in stitches. It was also a nice little nod at the usual cliche of the telescoping knife so often used on stage and in film.
And yet another description of the fight scenes from The New York Times:
Kenn Oldfield’s choreography and Malcolm Ranson’s slashing switchblade duels are highly charged assets. Consider, for example, the battle between Mercutio and Tybalt, which takes place on and around Tybalt’s sporty red convertible. As a challenge, Mercutio snaps off the aerial, then lies prone on the hood, knowing that his foe would not dare attack him on this safe ground.
Michael Kitchen and Hugh Quarshie reunited on screen 25 years later in White Heat playing characters not on the best of terms again.
Michael Kitchen looking dapper as ever on the set of Foyle’s War Series 8. More photos from the set here.
Production shot of Angharad Rees and Michael Kitchen in The Picture of Dorian Gray at the Greenwich Theatre, London, 1975 (available as a greeting card at zazzle.com). More production shots can be viewed here.
The critics were not kind to this misguided adaptation of the famous novel, and unfortunately, MK was not spared. The review above is from Reuter, while the critic for The Spectator wrote:
The audience is at the disadvantage of not being shown the portrait in which the awful changes are occurring. Even more unfortunately, we are shown Dorian Gray himself, a golden-haired Adonis who is, quintessentially “a young man of extraordinary personal beauty … who looks as if he was made out of ivory and rose petals,” but who materialises in the person of Michael Kitchen, a no more than moderately well-graced lad with a dark and disconcerting Afro haircut. His entrance is preceded and accompanied by a delicate little peal of bells. Nothing spoils a tragedy so much as a sense of humour in a producer.
HQ photos taken during filming of The Russian House. I’d never seen these before.