Theatreland Tour with Ian McKellen
Approaching Somerset House
Safely over? Turn left now and keep going until you reach the entrance of Somerset House. That will be on your right.
It’s hardly surprising that so many theatres have been ravaged by fire over the centuries. Even when I began acting as a young man, you could smoke in the theatres, back stage and during the performance. There were little ashtrays behind each seat. Somewhere for you to strike your match. I remember, if you were holding your audience, you knew you got them because nobody lit up. And the longer you kept them enthralled, the longer they’d go without smoking. Until finally, maybe at the end of a climactic moment or a love scene, suddenly everyone (exhales) lights up, reaches for their cigarettes. I saw all my early audiences through a haze of smoke.
Now keep on down this road. I’ll stop you when you reach Somerset House.