SIXTY years in the business, and Rodney Bewes’ favourite review came from a little girl who simply said ‘You’re mad’.
But the 74-year-old former Likely Lad is serious about fulfiling a lifelong dream by performing A Boy Growing Up.
The nine short stories were written by Welshman Dylan Thomas, but it was a performance by the poet’s fellow countryman Emlyn Williams which inspired Bewes to take on the one-man show for the first time this summer.
He said: “This is my 60th year as an actor. I started in 1952 as a 14-year-old on a BBC children’s play and got paid nine guineas.
“A year later I went to the Globe Theatre and watched Emlyn Williams perform A Boy Growing Up. I have always wanted to do it myself as a one-man show and I now I have the chance.
“Dylan Thomas was so poor he had to write the stories for radio broadcasts to get some money. They revolve around his time on a farm with his grandfather and father.
“People hear the name Dylan Thomas and think of poetry, but these stories are funny, which you need to be when on the stage in order to get people away from their TVs.”
Bewes put on the show for the first time at last month’s Edinburgh Festival, and he still has possession of one critique which said people would “crawl across glass to hear Bewes read out a telephone book”.
But he added: “I think the star system used at Edinburgh is so cruel and a lot of the time reviews quoted on posters come from something like the Hairdresser’s Journal.
“This year was my ninth festival appearance in 15 years and I remember once covering up my star rating on my posters with a sticker which said ‘no stars, no reviews’. The theatre manager went mad with me.”
Bewes brings A Boy Growing Up to Bowhill Theatre next week, the Selkirkshire venue being among his favourites.
And he will be travelling light, just the way he likes it. Bewes told us: “I believe Simon Callow, when performing Dickens on stage, had about 15 people assisting him, whereas I am just on my own with a BBC 1940s microphone, a single lightbulb and my 10-year-old Ford Mondeo.
“I get to pick and choose which venues I play and I always come back to Bowhill. I love the fact it is so small and intimate.”
A Bow Growing Up is on Wednesday and Thursday, starting at 8pm each night, with tickets £12. Phone 01750 22204 for more details.