Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Simon Callow: Illness forced me to exit stage left, but the show must go on

Simon Callow
Simon Callow

World-renowned actor Simon Callow has spoken for the first time about his "resurrection" after taking ill on stage during a production of The Man Jesus in Belfast last week.

The London-born actor was forced to dramatically halt the preview of his new Lyric Theatre play 10 minutes from the end.

But despite still feeling the effects of a stomach bug the following evening, Callow insisted that the show must go on.

Although it's taken almost a week to fully recover, Callow has been receiving rave reviews.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph about the alarming moment he realised he was about to collapse, Callow said he just knew he couldn't continue.

"I hadn't felt well all afternoon but I thought I'd be fine once I went on stage," he said.

"About 95 minutes in I felt I was about to collapse."

Sweating profusely and overcome by weakness, Callow had to stop the play and call for help.

"I said: 'I'm afraid I'm going to have to end the performance now. I might be about to faint'.

"A lady in the audience caught me just as I was about to fall. Then a doctor who'd been in the audience came to examine me and said there was nothing wrong with my heart, so I knew it wasn't serious."

Callow was back on stage for opening night, despite doctor's orders to rest. And the drama surrounding his mystery bug has certainly not put him off Belfast, where, as a young English student at Queen's University, he began his acting career.

"I love Belfast and the Lyric has to be the most exciting new theatre I've visited in my life."

His one-man play runs at the Lyric until April 20, and sees him examine the character of Jesus through the eyes of those around him.

"I suppose you could say I've had my own Lazarus moment now," he said.


Simon Callow (63) is an English actor, director and writer. He is perhaps best known for his movie work including Four Weddings And A Funeral, Shakespeare In Love, Phantom Of The Opera and the Hollywood hit Ace Ventura 2: When Nature Calls. He is also a prolific stage actor and has played many notable roles. In his youth, Callow studied English at Queen's University Belfast.

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