RENOWNED actor Simon Callow is set to star in one-man show The Man Jesus at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast this spring.
Most famous for his Royal Shakespeare performances and his turn in hit film Four Weddings and a Funeral, the seasoned thespian was in Belfast yesterday to announce his performance in the premiere of this Matthew Hurt play examining the life of Jesus, opening at the theatre during Holy Week.
Callow, who studied at Queen’s University, Belfast before abandoning his degree to pursue acting, said he was delighted to be performing here.
He said: “I can barely express my excitement at appearing on the stage of the most beautiful new theatre in Europe, at returning to the city where I studied and where I did my first acting, and at being involved in the world premiere of Matthew Hurt’s deeply moving new play about Jesus.”
At the end of the play’s run Callow will deliver the annual Lyric Lecture on April 21 to celebrate the theatre’s second birthday.
Born in London, Callow attended the London Oratory School and then went on to study English literature at Queen’s.
His immersion in the theatre began after he wrote a fan letter to Sir Laurence Olivier, then artistic director of the National Theatre, and received a response suggesting he join their box office staff. Watching actors rehearse, he realised he wanted to act.
Callow made his stage debut in 1973 and made his first film appearance as Schikaneder in Amadeus in 1984. He also humorously impressed with his role as the Reverend Mr Beebe in the film adaptation of EM Forster’s A Room with a View.
The actor, who has also enjoyed success as a writer and director, also notably starred in Channel 4 comedy Chance in a Million, as an eccentric individual to whom coincidences happened regularly. Roles like the latter, and his part in Four Weddings and a Funeral, brought him to a wide audience.
One of Callow’s best-known books is Love Is Where It Falls, a poignant analysis of his platonic relationship with Peggy Ramsay, a prominent British theatrical agent. He has also written about Charles Dickens, whom he played in one-man show The Mystery of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd.
More recent theatrical roles have included the psychiatrist in Peter Shaffer’s Equus at the Chichester Festival and Pozzo in Sean Mathias’s production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett opposite Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon and Sir Patrick Stewart as Vladimir.