Not one, but two extraordinary one-man plays at the Lyric

As Easter approaches the Lyric offers a feast of theatrical talent with a double helping of two very different one-man shows. The Danske Bank Stage will be blessed until 20 April with the unbelievably talented Simon Callow who stars in the world premiere of The Man Jesus which previews from this weekend.

The Royal Shakespeare actor, who became a household name for his role in the hit film Four Weddings and a Funeral,will perform a staggering 12 different Biblical characters, including Pontius Pilate and Herod to examine who Jesus really was.

Simon Callow explained: “It is the Jesus of Christianity filtered through the eyes of many people who encountered him – his mother, his disciples, Herod, Pontius Pilate and so on. Each of them gives their account of the man Jesus, and we try to figure out the extraordinary impact of this man, why was he so radical, so revolutionary and why Jesus has dominated Western society for 2,000 years.”

At the end of this much anticipated premiere, the distinguished actor will deliver the annual Lyric Lecture on 21 April to celebrate the theatre’s second birthday.

From a deeply moving play about the Messiah to a quirky comedy about the character Malvolio from Shakespeare’sTwelfth Night, the Naughton Studio offers a very different one-man play by the highly-gifted actor and writer, Tim Crouch.

One of Britain’s most innovative and respected theatre-makers, Crouch tells a timeless story of bullying, prudery and practical jokes through a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s famous comedy.

I, Malvolio is part of a long theatrical tradition that allows minor characters in classic plays to take centre stage and have their say, in this case the pompous but essentially decent Malvolio who is tricked into believing his employer, the noblewoman Olivia, is in love with him.

This is a hilarious and at the same time cleverly unsettling rendering of Twelfth Night which explores audiences’ values and what they find funny.

“My ambition is always to tell the story, but also to fire up the sense of ‘theatre’ in a young audience, the sense of a live act of communication,” said Tim Crouch.

“I’m not precious about the language; I steal and raid and mash together. I want a young audience to encounter Elizabethan language as though it was as fresh as new paint.  It feels right to let the main roles have a day off and let the little fellas have their say. Looking at the main action through the eyes of a lesser character invigorates our understanding of the whole”.

I, Malvolio is directed by Karl James and A Smith and designed by Olivier Award-winning Graeme GilmourFresh from a three-week run in Dublin, I, Malvolio is at the Lyric for four days only. Don’t miss it!

I, Malvolio runs in the Naughton Studio from 9 to 12 April at 7pm; matinees Wed to Fri 1.30pm. Tickets £14/ children & schools £8.50.

The Man Jesus runs on the Danske Bank Stage from 3 to 20 April (previews 30, 31 March & 2 April for £15). Tickets from £15 – £24.50.