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Revival arrives at the King’s Head

To my astonishment – and dismay – the author, Tom Gallacher, responded adversely to Julian’s performance.‘Too negative, too downbeat’ was his judgement.

Idly, I wondered if Shakespeare was ever troubled by the astonishing variety of interpretations of Hamlet he must have endured.

There is a kind of hierarchy of persons to be respected in the creative enterprise and – after a lot of inner searching – I decided that authors were at the top of the heap. `Where would you lot be without us?’ they are inclined to mutter.

So, very reluctantly, I agreed to recast the character of Bernard Kevin – the actor-manager.

Breaking the news to Julian was gut-wrenching, but he took it with remarkable equanimity. He’d been around long enough to take the knocks, but it would have given him a late chance to shine in a leading part in London.

Although the King’s Head was making waves in the press and seducing audiences with its bohemian mix of grub, booze and high-class shows, it was still a stretch for a theatre star, with a big name, to risk treading the makeshift boards at the back of an Islington public house.

I clearly remember trying to interest Peter Bayliss… amongst others.

But, it was David Swift who was raring to have a go. His brother, Clive, was much better known than he was and he wanted very much to match his bro’s success.

We were losing publicity momentum with every delay in bringing Revival! to London yet, try as he might, David could never be consistent. One day his actor-managerial gravitas was convincing – the next he would be chattering away his lines like a West End playboy.

Rehearsals with David were fraught and, after a week or so, it became clear that he’d never be convincing as an old-school actor manager.

More or less amicably, we agreed to call it a day.