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There Once Was A Time When RSC Actors Were So Disillusioned

The Birthday Party, Royal Shakespeare Company, Newcastle Theatre Royal THERE was once a time when RSC actors were so disillusioned that they wrote off to Jim'll Fixit, as a joke, to ask him to track down their artistic director Trevor Nunn.

It's the kind of soul-baring which makes the world's greatest theatre company such a triumph on Tyneside. There wasn't a spare seat on Sunday night as fans lapped up the memories of the great and the good dating back to 1977.

Richard Griffiths, the hugely gifted Middlesbrough actor, stole the first half with early memories including the story of "professional Yorkshireman" Barry Rutter buying a pair of Canadian mountain boots to survive the snows and frost of 1978 - "nay mountains around here, mind," he was mildly rebuked. Current artistic director Adrian Noble revealed he met and proposed to his wife while finding his feet at the Theatre Royal as a "terrible assistant director". Actor David Tennant became the night's tongue-in-cheek master of ceremonies with a reassuring: "This is your reward for sitting through all that boring Shakespeare."

In between some beautifully performed music from the RSC Band, reflecting hundreds of scores created for 285 productions staged in the North-East so far, there was remarkably little Shakespeare quoted.