Brian Blessed seems to have taken this motto to heart. The veteran actor collapsed on stage with apparent heart problems while playing King Lear on Monday night. Worried members of the cast and crew feared it would be curtains for the night but the determined thespian, known for his booming voice, surprised everyone by returning to the stage a short time later to complete his performance.
Sounds like the audience got more drama than they bargained for…
The 78-year-old actor had just begun delivering his lines at Holy Trinity Church in Guildford when he fainted and fell off a raised platform, leaving theatregoers confused. The actor’s co-star Noel White, playing the Earl of Kent, raised the alarm, saying: “Ladies and gentleman, this is not part of the play. Is there a doctor in the house?”
Did anyone come to his rescue?
Fortunately there was a surgeon in the audience who assisted Blessed off the stage, to a round of applause. About 20 minutes later, having been assessed by the surgeon, he reappeared on stage and apologised to the audience, saying: “I feel such an idiot and am not in the habit of doing this, but I have a little fibrillation [irregular heartbeat].”
He then powered through the five-act Shakespearian tragedy and was heard to whisper: "Let’s keep going!”
You can’t keep a good man down…
“Brian was an inspirational wonder. He had a small heart operation three years ago,” the company’s director Caroline Devlin said. “We are not entirely sure why he became so dizzy but he is a 20-year-old in a 78-year-old’s body. There was no stopping him.”
Is he feeling better now?
Blessed completed Tuesday’s performance, which went without a hitch, and will appear for the rest of the show’s sold-out run.
And he’s not going to hold back?
Unlikely. He intends to make his a “powerful” Lear, with perhaps “even a touch of Genghis Khan”.