Samuel West Issues Broadside on Noble's RSC Plans

News   Samuel West Issues Broadside on Noble's RSC Plans

Sam West's acceptance speech at the Critics Circle Awards in the Saloon at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane yesterday continued the debate about the direction in which Adrian Noble is taking the RSC.

In a witty and modest speech West - whose mother, actress Prunella Scales, was in the invited audience - thanked the Critics Circle for inviting the whole cast of Hamlet to the ceremony.

He then went on, however, to link this courtesy with the concept of the RSC being a company whose strength was in its ensemble acting and which had enjoyed a sense of cohesion and comradeship which was now under threat.

The fact that he specifically mentioned the redundancies that will be part of Noble's changes to the RSC (which, to be fair, are intended to be for the company's long-term benefit and future vitality) emphasized the general discontent that has surfaced in the press and at the House of Commons Culture Committee's recent meeting with Noble and other representatives of the RSC.

That West should clash with the management changes to the RSC when receiving an award for his lead role in a flagship RSC production is a sign of how deep the feelings aroused by Adrian Noble's changes really are.

Until an equally high-profile and popular RSC actor (or director, or designer or similar figure) steps forward at such an industry gathering and makes an explicit defence of, and support for, Noble's administration, the public impression will increasingly be of unpopular changes being forced through in a way deeply damaging to the RSC's morale and public image.

For further information or tickets to Hamlet call the Barbican Theatre Box Office on 020 7638 8891.

—by Paul Webb Theatrenow