Ian McKellen | Blog | 28 January 2014

Meeting audiences outside the Cort Theatre, some questions regularly recur.

"Is that real alcohol that you drink in the plays?"

If it were, Sir Pat and I would be incapable! And probably thrown out of Actors' Equity. After all, our characters knock back the vodka, malt whisky and Champagne throughout the two hours of Pinter's play. In reality, that's tap water, cold tea and soda water. And any drunkenness is just acting, I promise. Pozzo doesn't share his bottle of red wine but I guess Shuler Hensley is actually quaffing harmless blackcurrant cordial.

Food however can't easily be faked on stage and I have to eat in both our plays. While he waits for Godot, Gogo is always peckish and chews on turnips and carrots for real, though he refuses Didi's offer of a black radish: "I only like the pink ones - you know that". Trickier for this vegetarian is having to gnaw on the real chicken drumsticks, which Pozzo discards. The greasy bones are gritty with dust from the wooden stage.

In No Man's Land, Spooner, locked all night in his host's front room, is served breakfast by the menacing housekeeper. I look forward to my scrambled eggs, grilled tomato and three slices of crustless , white-bread toast, which our props man Rob Brenner prepares under the Cort Theatre stage during the intermission and then garnishes with two small clumps of parsley.

Mind you, I'm particular about scrambling eggs - the British way. I showed Rob my step-mother's fool-proof recipe, which I commend to you.

Ingredients: One large organic hen's egg: nob of organic butter: splash of organic milk: salt/pepper to taste.

Method: Throw all the ingredients together in a small saucepan and slowly heat the mixture, constantly stirring, until the eggs begin to solidify. I prefer my curds not too dry. The eggs this way do not ever separate but beware that the pan goes on cooking, after it is off the heat.

Spooner's breakfast is finished off with a third slice of toast and a dollop of orange marmalade courtesy of Smuckers.

As a hungry young actor, it was always thrilling when (as in Chekov's Three Sisters) there was "a practical pork pie" at the end of Act One. But on Broadway, I'm glad I have my stage breakfast only four times a week. It ruins the post-show appetite.

-Ian McKellen, New York, 28 January 2014


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