How Sheldon helped Gielgud be the best

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A LEADING director in the world of disability-led performances is bringing his latest work to Peebles.

The Man Who Lived Twice by Garry Robson is about “love, longing and the unreliability of macaws”, according to the Birds of Paradise Theatre Company who are behind it.

The story revolves around a dramatised account of a meeting that took place in New York in 1936 between young and in demand actor, John Gielgud, and the playwright Edward Sheldon.

Gielgud is still best known for his Shakespearean work. He played Hamlet more than 500 times in six productions, as well as performances in The Tempest, Richard II, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

An American dramatist, Sheldon was crippled by arthritis for more than half of his life.

In a letter to his mother after their meeting, Gielgud wrote: “I had an extraordinary time this afternoon.

“Edward Sheldon who wrote Romance and other successful plays has been stricken with some appalling petrifying paralysis for 14 years and is blind too.

“All the well-known stage people go to see him, talk to him and act scenes from their plays and ask his advice ... he talks with consummate ease and charm, as if he had known you all his life.”

A spokesperson for the Birds of Paradise Theatre Company said: “The play tells the extraordinary story of the relationship of the ‘crippled muse’ and the ‘fastidious actor’, who a few days later returned to give the performance of his life.”

Robson has been described as instrumental in encouraging some of the UK’s finest disabled actors, including Mat Fraser.

The Man Who Lived Twice will be guest-directed by the award-winning actress and director, Alison Peebles. Her directing credits include award-winning feature film AfterLife.

The role of Gielgud will be played by Laurie Brown and Sheldon will be played by Paul Cunningham, a stalwart of Glasgow venue Oran Mor.

The show at the Eastgate Theatre is on Wednesday, March 21, and starts at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £13 and can be bought from 01721 725777.