Saturday, 16 March 2013


Colin Blakely
(1930 - 1987)

"Colin Blakely was not just another fine actor; he was unique.  He gave me more pleasure than any other actor of my generation.  I never missed an opportunity to see him act; I was never disappointed, frequently elated.

An actor, like any other artist, cannot be judged only on the volume of his work but on the scale and grandeur of it. Titus Andronicus, Touchstone, Bottom, Kite in The Recruiting Officer, Philoctetes, Valpone, Tvold in The Dolls House, Astrov in Uncle Vanya, Captain Shotover in Heartbreak House,
Phil Hogan in A Moon for the Misbegotten, John Proctor in The Crucible, Captain Boyle in Juno,  Deeley in Pinter's Old Times, Martin Dysart in Equus. These are but a few of the many acclaimed performances he gave at Stratford-upon-Avon, the Royal Court, the National Theatre, and in the West End of London.  I haven't even touched on his film and television achievements.

Someone has said that acting is not imitation but revelation of the inner self.  Colin would delve into that rich mine of himself and dredge up raw emotions, then shape them with a seamless technique into performances that are part of theatre history.

I was at the first night of Alan Ayckbourn's A Chorus of Disapproval at the Lyric Theatre in which Colin played the lead role, one Dafydd ap. Llewellyn, a producer of amateur musicals.  It was a rumbustious , energetic, athletic performance infused with a lovable, bemused innocence.  I have rarely laughed more in the theatre.  I could not know, nor did the audience suspect, that the actor they were watching was being ravaged by a virulent form of cancer and by the dreadful side effects of chemotherapy and radiation.

It was a performance I will never forget; the greatest feat of physical and spiritual heroism I have ever witnessed.  He continued in that role for a further nine months and died two months after the play closed."

TP McKenna

(TP's tribute was written at the invitation of the Irish Times shortly after Colin's passing)

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