Michael Pennington is one of those actors. Authoritative and genuine, a sympathetic mélange of RSC, ESC and BBC, swirled in creamily rich RP, he is a bit like God. Or rather, he is what God should be. His touring solo Shakespeare riff Sweet William, briefly returned to London, does in fact feel like some kind of heavenly tête-à-tête. Glowing with intimacy, subtlety and spontaneity, he suffuses the tiny Trafalgar Studio 2 with his passion for and obligation to our ragged, magnificent bard.
Sweet William follows a solo format that has become particularly popular in recent years. The virtuoso one-man semi-autobiographical biopic (think Simon Callow in The Mystery of Charles Dickens, Patrick Stewart in A Christmas Carol, Pete Postlethwaite in Scaramouche Jones) demands great courage, charisma and chameleon-like talent. Sadly, it also seems to demand balls. Much as I love these moving male monologues, they've got me thinking: where are all the great one-woman shows?