Few British actors enjoy the kind of profile that Rowan Atkinson does. His CV boasts a wide range of comic TV roles, from kid-friendly slapstick (Mr Bean), cutting satire (Not the Nine O'clock News) and sitcoms (Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line).
Atkinson is, reportedly, an intensely private, even shy, individual and is, without doubt, widely and deeply loved. Which is why the news that he is taking the lead role in a comedy play has been greeted with such excitement. Simon Gray's tragicomic work about teachers including the affable but 'utterly hopeless' St John Quartermaine is rich in pathos and subtle, sparkling humour. 'Tragicomic', 'affable but hopeless' - sounds like bread and butter to a genius of comic timing and the bittersweet.
All too frequently (and lazily) referred to as only a 'rubber-faced funny man', Rowan Atkinson is a giant of British film and television comedy. Only Atkinson could have pulled off the poignant, troubling ending to the Blackadder series after years of silliness and cunning plans. His turns in hit comedies like Four Weddings and a Funeral and The Tall Guy are as memorable as anything in either film, despite award-winning turns from many excellent actors.
No, Rowan Atkinson is special and, refreshingly for one so gifted, he would appear to pick his roles very carefully. His next, as St John Quartermaine, will be one of the theatre events of 2013 when it begins at Wyndham's Theatre on 23rd January, running until 23rd April 2013.
We have tickets available now, priced from £25 for balcony seats to £58.50 for the very best stalls. They will sell quicker than a batch of Mrs Miggins' dubious pies.