• Amy Toledano

Sunday Encounters: Anne Reid Interviews Derek Jacobi

Image courtesy of Danny Kaan

The interview between Anne Reid and Sir Derek Jacobi played out more like a casual conversation between two great friends than anything else. The pair were immediately familiar, and their closeness, created during their time together on Last Tango in Halifax, is like being amongst the best of friends. The audience is right there with them from the start, vocally excited as the two old friends reunite for this special occasion.

Reid wastes no time, and begins at the most important part- the beginning. Jacobi recalls his youth and his first experience of success in the acting world. At seventeen, he played Hamlet in a production that found great critical success at the Edinburgh Fringe, and began his real passion for Classical theatre. From here, the entire show follows the theme of luck. Jacobi, although incredibly talented has been blessed with brilliant luck and timing throughout his career. Reid, always playful and never bitter loves to remind Jacobi of this fact and some very lovely anecdotes are shared as a result.

Attending University at Cambridge Jacobi recalls the luck of his interview with glee. 'It was the boat race that day!' and instead of having a formal interview, Jacobi was asked if he would mind listening to the race on the radio. As luck would have it, Cambridge won the race and so the professor stood up, shook Jacobi's hand, and said 'interview over, you're in!'

Following his studies, Jacobi was apart of Birmingham rep, where he worked for three years, and performed for (In Anne Reid's words) a theatre God, Sir Laurence Olivier. Seeing the promise in Jacobi while attending a Wednesday matinee, Sir Laurence took him under his wing and the pair worked together on various productions for years to come.

Working at theatres such as the Old Vic and the National Theatre, Jacobi has tread the boards with some of the industries most acclaimed. He spends time discussing his experience with directors, an confesses that the best directors he has worked with have been actors themselves. 'Some are horrible' he explains. 'You end up acting to please the director instead of your audience'. 'Why do they do it?' Reid agrees as the pair fall back into old habits of discussing in detail their experiences of the best and the worst.

After the interval, the pair explore his film and television career, from Gladiator to I, Claudius. Jacobi's screen career has had the same stroke of luck as on stage and his excitement and gratitude overflows as he reminisces.

Always seen as a classical actor, Jacobi describes his experience on Last Tango in Halifax, and the wonderful time he had playing an ordinary person. Clearly an audience favourite, Reid and Jacobi both thrill them with the news that there is talks of another season.

As the show draws to a close, there is a short Q & A section, where people are able to ask Jacobi about things that had not been discussed. Amongst questions about his time at Birmingham rep, his guest spot on Frasier, and advice for young actors, he was asked about his parents and their relationship with his success. Jacobi describes them as being incredibly supportive, despite never being apart of the arts themselves. He continues that he never saw his parents reading or going to the theatre but that they have always been there for him in his journey to success.

A warm evening, with a familiar and relaxed atmosphere, and stories that are friendly and open. Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid are lovely together, and their banter is something that is truly special to witness.

Amy x

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