National Theatre Artistic Director Rufus Norris stepped in as a last-minute replacement in the sold-out run of Laura Wade's Home, I’m Darling this past weekend when a cast member fell ill moments prior to the evening performance August 31.
An audience of over 400 were already in their seats when Norris was informed by director Tamara Harvey that actor Richard Harrington was unable to go on. With less than 30 minutes to showtime and no understudy available, Norris made the split-second decision to grab a script and join the cast.
"I had to give a decent reading of the script," he told The Evening Standard. "You make sure you’re heard and that you’re going at the right pace. When those things happen and you only have one option, you think, ‘Right, let’s get our heads down and do it.'"
The new play about a woman who opts for the life of a domestic housewife in pursuit of a pleasant marriage ends its run acclaimed run September 5 after playing to sold-out houses since it opened a month ago.
Norris admitted to having only a "vague understanding" of the play, "but it was only a few days before the show finishes and we couldn’t add an extra date. We had a full house who wouldn’t be able to see it again.”
The National's social media team Tweeted the news just as the performance began, offering Norris a bit of encouragement: "Break a leg to all the Company, especially the new recruit..."