Lovely to see Roger Rees again, of course, but his solo turn of speeches by, and anecdotes about, Shakespeare is thin gruel for a West End stage, an after-dinner entertainment originally produced for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington DC.
Roger Rees in What You Will at the Apollo Theatre Photo: Tristram Kenton
For those of us who grew up with Rees as Hamlet and Nicholas Nickleby, an RSC leading actor of febrile intensity, puppyish charm and effortless vocal mastery (it must be the Welsh in him), it’s wonderful to see that, at the age of 68, he’s really just the same.
He auditioned for the RSC on this very stage in 1965. And he still flops his hair in the same way, and acknowledges applause with a shy, backward step and a big grin.
He’s currently enjoying Broadway success (he lives in New York) with his production of a Peter Pan prequel, Peter and the Starcatcher, written by Jersey Boys author Rick Elice.
Although he delivers superb accounts of several great speeches, and finally gets round to naming his four favourite actors - an anonymous 19th century bit player, Mr Cubitt, David Garrick, Ralph Richardson and Harvey Keitel - his material desperately needs shaping and editing - it needs a director.
Many of the gobbets are unfinished, the internet solecisms (Shakespeare lived in his own era, and wrote in Islamic pentameters) tiresome, and the Dickens backstage visit to Mr Wopsle in Great Expectations too long.
Bienvenu, Rog, but this is not the most scintillating of follow-ups to your spry, almost cheerful Vladimir in Waiting for Godot at the Haymarket two years ago.