Sir Ian McKellen faced quite the dilemma after an injured leg prevented him from performing in King Lear on Saturday. His solution? Treating theatregoers to an impromptu Q&A and Gandalf reprise.
The Lord of The Rings star announced on Twitter that he had to bow out of the matinee Shakespeare show after “he galloped up 45 steps to catch the train” and his “leg gave way”. That meant McKellen couldn’t carry out the most strenuous parts of the play, such as hoisting a corpse across stage.
I hadn’t long been up before I set off for yesterday’s matinee of King Lear. At the underground station I galloped up 45 steps to catch the train above. Once on it, I skipped along the carriage and my left leg gave way. A strained calf muscle was diagnosed … pic.twitter.com/5fH3ASa65o
However, as audience members awaited their ticket refunds McKellen nevertheless appeared on stage for 90 minutes as he “tried out a few new routines and some old ones – a bit of Gandalf and a couple of Shakespeare speeches”.
So, although audiences missed out on McKellen’s critically-acclaimed Lear, they instead were served a one-off “experience of a lifetime”.
Sir Ian McKellen injured himself running to catch a train, and this afternoon’s performance of King Lear is cancelled. Instead, McKellen is chatting with the audience taking questions, and it is pretty incredible. pic.twitter.com/UcNLiWNgE7
Someone in the audience asked Sir Ian McKellen his tips for auditions. He said "having been the one people audition to, just relax. Because they'll know if you're what they had in mind before you've even spoken a line, and if not, it's not incompetence or inadequacy on your part"
We doff our wizard’s hats in your direction, Sir Ian.
Standing ovation for Sir Ian McKellen, who welcomed his cast mates to the stage after being unable to perform. While I’m obviously disappointed to not see King Lear, it was a privilege to hear McKellen share his thoughts on theatre this afternoon. pic.twitter.com/r8TCWJJJwX