Heard the very sad news this evening (from my parents, who were in the audience) that the actress Lindsay Duncan was taken ill onstage today, during the matinee of Hay Fever at the Noel Coward Theatre. After needing three successive prompts (until which she’d been incredibly good, apparently, but the action had seemed oddly slow), Miss Duncan apologised to the audience that she couldn’t go on. She held out her hand to Kevin R McNally, who plays her husband, and he led her from the stage (other cast members followed). The curtain was brought down, and subsequently two announcements were made (onstage) by the House Manager, confirming Miss Duncan’s illness. The play resumed with Miss Duncan’s understudy in the role of Judith Bliss. Apparently, Rosalind Cressy was also splendid, and duly received special recognition at the curtain call.
I’ve been checking twitter and news sources for any information/updates on Lindsay Duncan’s condition, but to no avail. If anyone does know, I’d be ever so grateful – she’s the most wonderful actress, and (way back when) someone with whom my mother worked at Stratford. I’ve loved her performances since I was a small child, too, but above all it’s just horrific to imagine somebody so talented & so professional being so unwell.
Neither of my parents, in all their years on both sides of the curtain, had ever seen anything like it; apparently, it was very upsetting and I’m glad I wasn’t there. I have huge sympathy for everyone involved and hope Miss Duncan is better soon. Again, if anyone does know (or, indeed, sees Hay Fever tonight/over the next few days), I’d be really glad to hear how she’s doing.
Dr Sophie Duncan is Fellow in English at Christ Church, University of Oxford. She works regularly as a historical advisor and as a dramaturg for theatre, TV, radio and film. She likes theatre, detective fiction and cocktails.