ANGUS WRIGHT - Actor
For the National Theatre, Angus appears in Mrs
Affleck at the Cottesloe Theatre from 20 January 2009.
Mrs Affleck - review
The Tragedy of Thomas Hobbes -
The Merchant of Venice - review
Wright is one of the most intriguing and versatile actors of today's theatre.
He has played Angelo in Complicite's Measure for Measure, Sir
David Manning in Nicholas Hytner's controversial Stuff Happens,
Andrew Aguecheek in Tim Carrol -l's Twelfth Night, Alfred the
Dreamer in Katie Mitchell's Dream Play, and Dr. Dorn in The
Seagull . I first saw Angus on stage as the Earl of Warwick in Marianne
Elliott's brilliant production of St Joan. Wright's Warwick was
a suave and calculating politician striving for an alliance with the Church
against the danger posed by Joan's anarchic individualism. He mastered
Shaw's text with ease and held the audience's attention whenever he was
on stage. It was a stellar cast led by the wonderful Anne Marie Duff as
Joan, with Paterson Joseph as Cauchon, Brendan O'Hea as Robert de Baudricourt,
and Oliver Ford Davies as the Inquisitor.
then went on to play a very different role in a production that would
become one of the big hits for the National Theatre - War Horse.
Marianne Elliott chose him for the sympathetic German captain Friedrich
Müller. Wright did not speak any German at all and he had quite a
lot of German text which was continuously altered during previews. When
I saw him play the German officer he had managed to capture the melody
and characteristics of the German language. Angus Wright gave a very touching
performance as the German career officer who comes to realise that he
is useless as a soldier and just wants to go home.
Angus Wright was born in Washington DC and grew up in Cairo, Bahrain and
Syria. His English father worked for the Foreign Office. Angus studied
art history at Edinburgh University before training as an actor at Central.
During his training he went to the Moscow Arts Theatre School to play
Astrov in Uncle Vanya directed by Vladimir Bogomolov and Gloumov
in Timothy West's Too Clever by Half . The talented young actor
caught Adrian Noble's attention and Angus began his career as part of
Noble's first company at the RSC in 1991. He played Batlon in The
Dybbuk, directed by Katie Mitchell, and several parts for Adrian
Noble including Guildenstern in Hamlet.
After two years he left the RSC to join Stephen Berkoff's
production of Salome for the European tour where he was given
the part of John the Baptist. He then played Victor in Private Lives
for Kenny Ireland and A Mongrel's Heart at the Royal Lyceum in
Edinburgh. Next he joined the Royal National Theatre for Jonathan Kent's
Mother Courage where he played the Lieutenant. He took part in
two productions in the National Theatre Studio - Early Morning
and The Rivals - before being given the role of Lysander in Jonathan
Miller's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream for the Almeida
Theatre. The Daily Telegraph remarked on this production: "Most of
the performances are inventive and beguiling. Angela Thorne's Titania
is an imperious (at times Thatcheresque) chatelaine whose fairies are
a retinue of white-gloved flunkies in tails. Both Robert Swann's Theseus
and Norman Rodway's beautifully spoken Oberon come over as affably fruity
club-men who'd be at home in a Wodehouse novel. The young lovers, fresh
from the débutante season, offer particularly good value. Jonathan
Coy's Demetrius is an engagingly plump chump, Angus Wright's Lysander
a gawky nerd who is transformed into a hilarious smooth-talking cad by
Puck's potion. Doon Mackichan touchingly captures Helena's despairing
self-flagellation and the lovely Sylvestra Le Touzel combines sharp disdain
(watch her look of contempt when Lysander delivers the hoary old cliché,
'The course of true love never did run smooth') with glimpses of vulnerability."
The Royal National Theatre cast Angus as the Pilot Officer in Howard Davies'
Chips with Everything before he returned to the RSC to play Clive
in Stephen Poliakoff's production of Talk of the City in 1998.
The drama explores media control and questions how the newly emerging
BBC responded to the growing crisis in Europe in the late 1930s. He then
rejoined Selina Cadell, with whom he had worked earlier in The Rivals,
to play Algernon in The Importance of Being Earnest at the Nottingham
Playhouse. Next, he played Baron Tusenbach in Three Sisters at
the Chichester Festival Theatre and Andrew Aguecheek for Tim Carroll in
the Globe Theatre production of Twelfth Night.
Katie Mitchell, who had worked with Angus in The Dybbuk, cast
him as Kulygin in her acclaimed production of Three Sisters at
the National Theatre in 2003. Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph praised
his "outstanding work" as one of the play's "two desperately
sad, cuckolded husbands". The Financial Times singled out "Lucy
Whybrow, a truly original Natasha, as vulnerable as she is monstrous,
and Angus Wright, a dry Kulygin vividly touching in passages of both denial
In 2004 Wright joined the cast of Measure for Measure for
a co-production of the National Theatre and Simon McBurney's Theatre Complicite.
He was given the part of the Provost at first but was later cast in the
substantial role of Angelo when the production came back in 2006. Charles
Spencer of the Daily Telegraph was rather taken with Angus' performance:
"Angus Wright, taking over from Paul Rhys, gave a stunning performance
as a cold, painfully emaciated Angelo, who suddenly discovers himself
burning with illicit desire. "What's this?" he cries in horror
as he discovers he has an erection after his interview with Isabella,
and later he uses the razor blade with which he tries to mortify his own
flesh to surgically remove her bra. It's vile, but the scene is also,
Stuff happens… and it's untidy, and freedom's untidy, and free
people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things.
In 2005 the National Theatre produced David Hare's Stuff Happens
in response to the invasion of Iraq. Angus was cast as Sir David Manning
and as a Journalist. Because of its political relevance politicians came
to see the previews and their comments were printed in the leading newspapers
which meant the production was already reviewed before press night. This
led to a number of discussions and altercations, particularly because
many of the reviews were not too positive. Michael Billington praised
the production: "The play ruthlessly exposes the dubious premises
on which the war was fought. At the same time, it questions our complacency
by reminding us of the pro-war arguments. A New Labour politician - possibly
not a million miles from Ann Clwyd - admits that the supposed weapons
turned out not to exist and that a military victory was compromised by
sloppy Pentagon planning for peace. "At the same time," she
argues, "a dictator was removed. (...) Hare's play offers a probing
guide to the Iraq war and shows how the whole mess was based on a disastrous,
unproven link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida. One comes out enriched
and better informed." (Michael Billington, The Guardian) Victoria
Segal compared Hare's play favourably with Tim Robbins' satire Embedded
that was shown at the same time as David Hare's play: Hare "gives
a true voice to the other side. One of the earliest 'viewpoints' in the
play, delivered by Angus Wright, silences the audience: 'How obscene it
is, how decadent, to give your attention not to the now, not to the liberation,
not to the people freed, but to the relentless, archaic discussion of
the manner of the liberation.'" (Sunday Times, Victoria Segal, 19/9/2004)
Katie Mitchell used Wright's talents again for Caryl Churchill's Strindberg
adaptation of A Dream Play where Wright played Alfred, the Dreamer.
It was the first collaboration between the National Theatre and Tate Modern.
The play that was considered impossible to stage by many, partly due to
stage directions such as "As the castle burns, the bud on the roof
bursts open into a giant chrysanthemum" was drastically re-structured:
"Not only has Caryl Churchill thoroughly resculpted the play, shifting
the emphasis to the stockbroker, Alfred (Angus Wright), and changing the
form of Indira's daughter, the original visiting angel, Mitchell and her
cast have also extensively reworked this reworking, incorporating their
own dream material into Churchill's script. Beautiful, comic and disturbing
images flit across the stage: women pushing chairs slowly across the floor
in a strange tango; children hanging in closets; a crying baby under a
trap door; burly ballerinas dancing with briefcases. Teeth crumble out
of Alfred’s mouth, skittering over the stage like ball bearings.
Tables move on their own, sometimes demanding to be patted like dogs."
(Sunday Times) Charles Spencer reviewed the production for the Daily Telegraph:
"In Katie Mitchell's stunning adaptation of Strindberg, you are whirled
through 100 minutes of disconcerting theatrical brilliance and at the
end feel you have woken from a troubling dream. Afterwards, the waking
world seems briefly different, shadowed and tainted by the vivid images
of sleep, or in this case theatre. But even as you try to remember it,
the dream begins to fade. (...) Angus Wright plays the stockbroker with
a touching, bewildered anxiety."
Angus rejoined Katie Mitchell in 2006 to play Dr. Dorn in her production
of The Seagull in an adaptation by Martin Crimp. Several members
of the audience and some of the critics were not too happy about the drastic
cuts and changes of Chekhov's text but Christopher Hart enjoyed the production:
"Martin Crimp’s new version takes bold liberties with text
and staging, slashing away whole soliloquies, restaging entire acts, but
the changes almost always seem to work. (...) Other notable performances
come from Angus Wright as the chilly doctor," (Christopher Hart,
Sunday Times) Dominic Cavendish agreed: "There's equally fine, nuanced
work across the board, especially from Sandy McDade's brittle, bird-like
Masha and Angus Wright as the considerate but unsentimental doctor Dorn".
(Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph)
Angus Wright has also worked extensively in film, television and radio.
He has won the distinguished BBC Radio Drama Carleton Hobbs Award. His
film and television work includes The Bank Job, Nicholas
Nickleby, Kingdom of Heaven, Waking the Dead, Hotel
Babylon, Wire in the Blood, Cambridge Spies and
The Way We Live Now.
Angus Wright is currently playing Shylock in The Merchant of Venice
under the direction of Tim Carroll with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avonl.
Later this year he will perform in The Tragedy of Thomas
Hobbes, the world premiere of Adriano Shaplin's new history play.
It is to be directed by Adriano Shaplin and Elizabeth Freestone.
C.V for Angus Wright.
Grateful thanks to Natasha at Complicite and photographer Sarah Ainslie
to Zoë at the National Theatre Archive
to Kevin Cummins for St. Joan photograph
to Simon Annand for War Horse photograph
to Carolin Kopplin for research and text
Merchant of Venice photographs by kind permission of the Royal
Arts Theatre School
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
Chichester Festival Theatre