The actor playing the title role in James II in the National Theatre of Scotland’s James Plays trilogy was rushed to hospital on Saturday, following an incident during an on-stage football game.
But Andrew Rothney soldiered on following the accident, which left his knee popped. He completed the performance of James II, and had to be helped from the stage after the curtain call. Rothney’s role in James III, the final part of the trilogy, as the bisexual architect and favourite of the King, Cochrane, was played on-the-book by David Mara.
The accident occurred when the banter was flowing freely in Act 2 of the second part of the James trilogy. Rothney’s young James II had just dispensed with the services of his “advisor”, Livingston. James then defies his chancellor and indulges in a game of ball with his best pal, the chancellor’s son, William Douglas.
This is not the beautiful game as we now know it, more a rammey. As playwright Rona Munro’s stage notes point out: “the rules of medieval football are pretty obscure and open to interpretation.”
With William also defying the his father – who has promoted the family by stealth – the two set up a big rowdy game with their two families, the Douglases and the Stewarts pitted against each other.
At some point in the game, having scored a goal, Rothney went down and stayed down. It wasn’t immediately apparent that anything was wrong, with director Laurie Sansom following Munro’s stage instructions pretty well.
“It’s basically a screaming, rowdy street fight with occasional contact with the ball,” she writes in the script. “Men and women are going for it with enormous enthusiasm but rapidly everyone is beaten to the point of collapse. Only William and James are left standing, limping, battered and utterly exhausted but refusing to give up.”
Which just about sums up Rothney’s performance. He saw out the football match and was limping when he returned for a long scene with William. And finally had to be helped from the stage at the end.
It is not yet known when he will be fit enough to return to the production. The next performance of the trilogy is James I on Wednesday 10 Feb.
Æ’s full review of the James Plays trilogy will appear later. Reviews of the original productions at the EIF 2014 can be found under the tag The James Plays.
The James Plays
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT. Phone booking: 0131 529 6000
Run ends Sat 13
Wed 10: 7.30pm; Thu 11: 2.30pm; Sat 13 at 12pm.
Thu 11: 7.30pm; Sat 13: 4pm.
Fri 12: 7.30pm; Sat 13: 8.15pm.