Half a Century Later Innes Returns
to the Fringe with ‘a Tribute’
George Innes , long time theatrical, film and television actor returns to The Edinburgh Fringe having last performed there half a century ago.
His one man performance of a Tribute- Gielgud’s Ages of Man, was a different version when developed for off-Broadway while there working on playwright, Maire Martello’s The Lodger. He later performed a shorter version of Tribute for the celebration of Shakespeare’s birthday in April 2009 at The Players, a theatrical club in New York City. Edwin Booth founded the club after visiting and being impressed by London’s Garrick Club . In the 1950s, Gielgud, himself ,was welcomed and made an honorary member of The Players. He often remarked how grateful he was for the support of the club and its members after a difficult time when scandal shook the foundation of his career.
As Gielgud before him, Innes treads that same path that takes us from youth to old age. We walk beside the romantic ,but ill fated star-crossed Romeo, follow the self doubting torment of Hamlet pondering the great questions of life and death, and end the journey hearing the howling grief of Lear, dying like a child ,stretched on the ground ,beside the hanged body of his wronged daughter, Cordelia
Innes expertly weaves the bard’s sonnets of romance and hope, cynicism and dark despair with soliloquies and speeches from Macbeth, Hamlet, Richard II Othello and more. Within this rich tapestry , delicately interwoven, are Gielgud’s own words written to his mother, friends and colleagues as he too makes his way from youth to his final days
George Innes trained at Toynbee Hall, Bristol Old Vic and LAMDA, where he was awarded the Shakespeare Cup. “Don Sutherland was my roommate,” says the actor. “We both competed for the coveted cup“, laughing he remembers that Sutherland did his speech while lying on his back.
Innes joined the National Theatre Chichester and the Old Vic under the direction of Sir Laurence Olivier, and years later did the premiere opening of the National Theatre Southbank with Tom Stoppard’s Jumpers.
“While in film and television I was a variety of thugs, gangsters and sometimes perverts. Acting poses a strange set of circumstances.” states Innes. “One year I played nothing but perverts, into all sorts of things including collecting women’s panties. Another year I played nothing but characters named Bill, such as Bill Bailey in the original Michael Caine’s Italian Job. Now in my later career, both in Russell Crowe’s Master and Commander, alas as the old man of the sea, and as a soothsayer in Stardust my characters all have long and flowing silver locks of the wise and experienced. ” reminisces veteran actor.
“But now I find I am returning to my acting roots. Tribute allows me the perfect opportunity to honor my Shakespearean training and Gielgud, a Shakespearean master. Now, that I too, am in my seventh decade , this show allows me an introspective of the bard’s words as I make my own way to the inevitable end of life’s journey .”
a Tribute- Gielgud’s Ages of Man opens August 8 - August 30, 2009 at the Free Fringe , venue # 99 , The Outhouse, 12A Broughton St, Edinburgh at 12:30pm (2hrs)