Humble Boy co-stars Simon Russell Beale and Felicity Kendal, the latter having replaced Dame Diana Rigg — who played Russell Beale's stage mother — at the National. A modern take on Hamlet, Humble Boy has charmed the public and critics alike, and confirmed Russell Beale as one of our most engaging actors. His vulnerability onstage is one of the most powerful weapons in his acting armory.
This vulnerability seems to extend offstage, too, as in a series of interviews — including one with drama critic Benedict Nightingale in The Times and, most recently, with another journalist in The Evening Standard — Russell Beale has spoken of his insecurities and the grief he feels over the death of his mother. He was particularly close to her, so playing against a mother character every night at the Gielgud must be a challenging emotional experience for him.
It is also a curious mirror image of what Daniel Day-Lewis went through at the National when playing Hamlet: Day-Lewis lost his father when in his early teens and found the experience of playing a man coming face to face with his father's ghost so harrowing that he had a breakdown during the run and had to be replaced.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow