Tag Archives: Tom Stoppard

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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.


Six weeks after Freud aired, Michael Kitchen could be seen live on stage playing a very different role in Tom Stoppard’s new work, Rough Crossing.

Two playwrights and collaborators, the composer and most of the cast of a musical comedy destined for Broadway are trying to finish and rehearse the play while crossing from Southampton via Cherbourg, to New York. – The Guide to World Drama

The play was deemed a big disappointment by most critics, but MK was singled out for his comedic chops. From Christopher Edwards’s review in The Spectator:

Next we move to the rehearsal of Turai’s and Gal’s monstrously bad musical comedy involving upper-class jewel thieves redeemed by the love of good women who play ping-pong. This may not be exactly correct but this is all part of the joke. No one really understands what the musical is about, thus enabling Stoppard to introduce his best idea in the form of a land-lubber waiter who grows in stature until he becomes a sort of one-man deus ex machina. He starts with comic misnomers, e.g. calling the funnels chimneys and the bridge the balcony; he initiates a routine which deprives Turai, on about half a dozen occasions, of a much needed brandy which he knocks back himself. Gradually he finds his sea legs when all about are losing theirs, and reveals a formidable grasp of the plot, unavailable even to those who composed it. Michael Kitchen’s performance is very funny, in particular his matter-of-fact plot synopsis of the ludicrously tangled business surrounding the jewel thief…

And Michael Billington wrote in his review for The Guardian (Oct. 31, 1984):

There is a very good performance from Michael Kitchen as the steward whom he endows initially with a knee-sagging Groucho-esque walk that suggests it is teatime on the Titanic which gives way to a trick of inclining vertically in his boots as if he were a marine Little Titch.

One theatergoer recalled years later on this blog:

It’s interesting to me to see Michael Kitchen in so serious a role in Foyle’s War and remember how funny, with excellent timing, he was as Dvornicheck in Rough Crossing. Very good actor.

Despite MK’s hilarious performance, the poor reviews for Rough Crossing led to the National Theatre pulling the play from its repertoire. For MK, though, unemployment didn’t last long, as the start of filming for Out of Africa in January 1985 was just weeks away.

Prior to appearing in The Russia House, Michael Kitchen had already acted in several other works written by Tom Stoppard during his years at the National Theatre.  One of the most successful of these plays was On the Razzle, which opened at the National to rave reviews.

From the website of the Hippodrome in Bristol where the production made a stop:

With a lesser cast it would not have worked, said the critic. “Timing, presentation and sheer momentum are everything and the National have a magnificent line-up which savours every idiotic nuance and tosses puns around like firecrackers.  …Michael Kitchen and Harold Innocent round off a remarkable comedy team.”

Among the comments in response to a review of Foyle’s War S1-6 on openlettersmonthly.com:

… your post did remind me of the first time I saw (a very much younger) Michael Kitchen… He was playing the roguish waiter type character and had the refrain ‘classic’ which cropped up throughout the show. I can hear him saying it now. His timing was spot on and he made that one word mean a thousand different things. He hasn’t had anywhere near the recognition he deserves. – Alex

Castmate John Challis wrote last month in the Birmingham Mail:

The villagers are used to film crews and some of Foyle’s War was shot there. Indeed, Michael Kitchen’s funny old face smiled enigmatically down from the wall as we spoke our lines. I worked with him at the National Theatre in Tom Stoppard’s On The Razzle and he recently got in touch with me, which was a lovely surprise.

More about MK’s character, Melchior, and some of the play’s pun-filled dialogue in this blogspot.com post.

Cartoon: William “Bill” Hewison, Punch

Just finished reading Andrew McCarthy’s soul-searching travelogue, The Longest Way Home, in which he describes in detail the difficulties of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.  Naturally, it reminded me that Michael Kitchen accomplished the same impressive feat in October 2002 (just a few weeks before the premiere of Foyle’s War) as one of a group of 14 supporting the charity, The Guerba/Village Education Project.  According to the organization’s newsletter, “his list of sponsors read like a Who’s Who in the theatre!”

Contributions came from some well know British actors and playwrights including Joanna Lumley, Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Irons, Martin Shaw and Sir Tom Stoppard. 

Hamish Fenton

In 2006, MK was among the contributors to one of that year’s charity climbs: