“It’s been a disaster, this show”, said David Buckingham, director of the upcoming production of Murder in the Cathedral.
After a triumphant run of Henry V earlier this spring, Richmond Shakespeare Society’s next production has faced a spate of bad luck.
The lead actor fell down a flight of stairs just before rehearsals were due to begin, sustaining bruised ribs and a broken collarbone.
Buckingham was forced to recast the role.
He said: “If the performance wasn’t going to kill him, then the journey up from Brighton on a daily basis would probably do it for him.”
Another cast member had to leave the cast due to a family emergency, while coronavirus created empty seats at rehearsals.
Despite these challenges, the cast is hoping for a better outcome than the subject of their play.
Patron saint of London
T. S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral follows the martyrdom of Saint Thomas Becket.
As Archbishop of Canterbury, Becket clashed with King Henry II over how much power the crown should have over the church.
He was assassinated mid-prayer in Canterbury Cathedral, 1170.
Sainthood soon followed, with Becket being given patronage over the City of London.
Despite the turbulence, it seems fitting that London’s patron saint should take centre stage in Twickenham.
Reflecting on his significance, Buckingham said: “Becket was a Londoner, he was also a commoner, and he grew to the highest office in the land. He was also referred to as a Cheapside Brat.
“Londoners can discover their potential in all sorts of ways.”
Long before he directed the play, Buckingham acted in a school production of Murder in the Cathedral aged 14.
An old school friend, who starred as Becket in that production, will be coming to watch Buckingham’s take on the classic.
Despite the misfortune, Richmond Shakespeare Society’s Murder in the Cathedral feels as though it was always meant to be.
Murder in the Cathedral will run at St Mary’s Church, Twickenham from Thursday 1 June to Saturday 3 June.
While the event is now sold out, you can find out more about their upcoming shows on their website.
Feature image credit: Charlotte Horobin (C) Richmond Shakespeare Society