In his West End debut Schiff plays a punctilious Dutch librarian whose world is rocked with the return of an overdue book. Overdue, that is, by 113 years.
Speaking to Playbill.com, Schiff revealed that it was his fellow "West Wing" star, the late John Spencer, who encouraged Schiff to confront his fear of stepping onto the stage, and take on the Berger play.
"He died while I was rehearsing. He never saw me onstage," says Schiff. "But he was there with me in spirit, backstage while I was shaking and trembling. And I would literally talk to him, and he'd tell me to get out there and kill 'em."
Directed by Maria Mileaf, this production of Underneath the Lintel, which is booking in London until April 14, premiered at New Jersey's George Street Playhouse Jan. 10, 2006.
Berger has said his play, which invokes the myth of the Wandering Jew, was inspired by Klezmer/Yiddish music. Schiff began his career as a theatre director in New York, where he founded the Manhattan Repertory Theatre, directing Off-Broadway productions, including Antigone starring Angela Bassett. As well as winning an Emmy for "The West Wing," Schiff has also appeared in such movies as "I Am Sam," "Hoffa" and "The Hudsucker Proxy."
Mileaf’s directorial credits include The Argument, Going to St. Ives and Laugh I Thought I’d Die.
Underneath the Lintel is presented in London by Michael Edwards and Carole Winter, whose previous West End production was David Harrower's Blackbird.
For more about Underneath the Lintel, call (0)970 890 1103.