‘It did happen in 1938 – it was a brief, unremarkable meeting, from which a rather beautiful sketch emerged that Dalí did of Freud, but Terry’s turned it into something quite… different.’
Yeeeees, it’s a strange play – how would you describe it?
‘He’s taken Freud’s obsession with the unconscious and Dalí’s obsession with surrealism, and he juggles them in the air and makes this play that is part farce, part psychological thriller, part drama.’
Had you given much thought to Freud before?
‘I mean, you can’t not have been aware of what an extraordinary pioneer he was. And in my life I’ve done periods of psychotherapy and it’s been very good for me so I guess one has him to thank for that!’
How do you approach such a well-known figure?
‘The play is a very human look at him, he’s in the very last year of his life, he’s dying of mouth cancer and he’s vulnerable. And I like that – playing the legend, somebody at the height of his powers would be much harder than playing an old man who’s suffering. We can all identify with him.’
You’ve not done anything with the RSC since your partner took over – is that deliberate at all?
‘It’s just how it’s turned out – we’ve worked together so much over the years it would be odd if people thought “Oh, now Greg’s in charge Tony can appear there.” I was there before him! I’m going back to the RSC soon, but I can’t say any more.’
Thirty-two years on, how do you look back at ‘The History Man’?
‘It was a terrific part and really a very lucky break. And I’m not sure if I’d be allowed to play the part now I’m out gay, because the part is of a rampantly heterosexual man who has to sleep with most of the women in the story. I’ve always wondered if I would have been allowed to play the part if I’d been out at the time, especially now, when TV casting kind of happens by committee.’
More theatre features
Puppet Theatre Barge
Moored at lovely Little Venice, this intimate water-borne theatre is the setting for quality puppet shows that put a modern twist on traditional tales and kids’ classics. Movingstage, a touring puppet company established in 1979, anchored here in 1982 and has since produced critically acclaimed marionette and animation shows for a mini 55-seat audience. The barge is here from October to July, with regular performances on Saturday and Sunday and a daily schedule during school holidays. The barge moves to Richmond from August. Discover more great things to do in Little Venice
Venue says: “We've moved to Richmond for the summer season! 'The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse' opens on July 21st”