What the papers say…

‘Michael Mears’ intensely moving, richly-textured one-man play THIS EVIL THING uses verbatim testimonies to form the script and a multi-layered soundscape for the aural backdrop against which he pays intelligent, sensitive homage to the conscientious objectors who fought their own war against war.
The CO’s story is still a tale rarely told, and rarely presented with this level of wisdom, perception, compassion and balance… but Mears does it admirably. One man, one act, few props; many scenes, multiple roles, numerous voices: This Evil Thing represents the great tradition of storytelling at its very best, and offers an up-close-and-personal insight into the human condition, for better or worse. It’s a revelatory tale indeed, sadly as relevant today as it was when Brocklesby fought his own war.’ Melissa Blease, THE BATH MAGAZINE Nov. 2018

‘How a lone actor with few props (the planks of wood are two small upturned drawers on which he balances) in the intimate drawing room of the Kempe Studio conjures such a visceral scenario is testament to Michael’s exemplary acting and his superbly crafted play … Michael switches seamlessly between his many roles: he’s a stretcher-bearer ducking fire on the front, a barking sergeant, a worried girlfriend, a troubled dad, an army officer, a philosopher, a politician, a campaigner… the effect is of a master storyteller at work’  Stratford-Upon-Avon Herald reviewing This  Evil Thing. 19th Jan 2017.  See full review here.

‘In this urgent and physical performance, Mears plays tribute to Bert Brocklesby – a schoolteacher who refused to bear armsand was silenced, starved and almost shot. Mears convincingly intersperses historical re-enactment with his own self-questioning, even asking what he would have done, had he been born at the time …  Mears himself is exhilarating to watch. He hares across the stage, convincingly being about four different men at once … This is a rich and personal modernisation of a lesser-told tale.’  This Evil Thing reviewed by The List 8th August 2016

Using real-life dialogue from such figures as Fenner Brockway and Bertrand Russell, Mears casts light upon a chapter of British history too often ignored, and raises some salient points about our responsibilities as individuals. Above all, we’re made to consider the terrifying results that occur when man falls out of line with popular consensus… Mears is an animated and engaging presence throughout, his faithful delivery of others’ words accommodating many a naturalistic flourish. Entertaining as his show may be, his gratitude and outrage remain very much to the fore. This is important, vital polemic.’ This Evil Thing reviewed by Lewis Porteous in Fest 6th August 2016

‘An actor both gifted and unselfish … Mears gives the most inventive reading of Malvolio’s letter scene since Olivier himself.’   The Observer – reviewing ATC’s production of Twelfth Night

‘The most vivid performance is from the chilling Michael Mears, as the wily puritanical and dangerous deputy.’  Evening Standard reviewing ETT’s The Herbal Bed

‘One exceptional man…’  The Observer

‘My best Festival show ever was a one-man show by Michael Mears called Tomorrow We Do The Sky.’ Miriam Margolyes interviewed by the Daily Telegraph in 2012

‘I marvel at Michael Mears’ ability…’      The Times on Tomorrow We Do The Sky

‘Seldom have I seen the subject of homelessness treated with such insight and compassion.’ The Scotsman – Fringe First Award Winner 1995 on Soup

‘This challenging, marvellously funny evening…epitomises the thrilling shock of the new that makes the Fringe consistently irresistible.’        Today on Soup

‘Mears’ performance is quite simply stunning, each character neatly and compassionately drawn.  The play is a moving, warm and intensely rich experience.’  The Stage – nominated for Best Actor, Stage Awards on Soup

 ‘Powerfully evocative, filled with humour and dignity…Mears takes you right there but you dare not look away.  With his lightning-quick changes and the face of an El Greco he shows us a part of life that there but for the grace of God…’  Time Out, London on Soup

‘In playing every part, Mears celebrates the art of acting and the multi-facetedness of the human personality and finally suggests that dereliction is just a crisis away from any one of us.’  The Independent on Soup

Mears is immensely talented at creating a character using minimal props…’   The Financial Times on Soup

Full of humour… marvellous character actor Michael Mears gives richly populated performances…’        Edinburghguide.com on Slight Tilt to the Left

‘Michael Mears is the Alec Guinness of afternoon drama.’       The Stage on Radio 4 solo drama

‘If talent were fame, Mears’ name would be in lights a mile high.’    Radio Times Radio 4 solo drama

Recent Posts

Was I a priest in a past life?

I’ve been working as a professional actor for over 40 years now – just writing
that sentence fills me with a certain sense of awe and wonder as well as an
undertow of where have all the years gone?
‘All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have
their entrances and their exits, and one man in his time plays many parts.’

Thus says Jaques in Shakespeare’s As You Like It.
Looking back now, I’ve played a goodly number of parts: various lawyers,
doctors, politicians – not forgetting a trio of different undertakers (because of
my tall lugubrious looks?) – oh and once I even played an exorcist!
But it sometimes seems to me that the majority of the parts this ‘one man in his
time’ has been called upon to play, have been members of the clergy. The one with the highest status was probably the Inquisitor in Shaw’s SAINT JOAN.

I’ve yet to be asked to play the Pope however. Any Pope. Though last year I did play an Italian priest sent by the Pope (to investigate alleged miracles occurring in Rwanda).
Usually it’s been a humble vicar or reverend that I’ve been asked to don a dog-collar for. And most of these parts have been played onstage.

But about thirty years ago I was called upon to play my first on-screen priest.
An Italian one, and a young one (well, I was young then) – in a charming film
about the Italian community in London called QUEEN OF HEARTS. One of
my scenes involved me presiding at a baptism, which was filmed in St. Peter’s
Church in Clerkenwell, and one of the priests there was on hand to ‘give me
advice’.
He was a short, stout, keen-eyed Italian man, who gave me tips on how to hold
the baby. He watched me closely and after I had successfully finished shooting
the scene, he came up to me and said, ‘You should be a priest.’
I laughed and thanked him.
‘No, I’m serious,’ he went on. ‘You should become a priest.’
‘Well,’ I responded, ‘There are similarities between acting and the priesthood,
I suppose. You know, standing in front of a crowd of people, addressing
them from a pulpit or ‘stage’. Needing to have a decent voice, being able to
project…there are similarities…’ I tapered off as I noticed him waiting for me to finish. ‘I am serious. You should become a priest.’
‘But I love acting and I’m only in the early years of my career…’
‘Think about what I say,’ were his final words as he ambled off back to his
office.
Two years later I was walking from my then home in Streatham to Tooting Bec
tube station. As I approached a bus-stop near the tube I saw him – he was
unmistakable.
‘Father! It’s me! Do you remember? The actor you gave advice to for the film
a couple of years ago.’
He looked at me keenly. ‘Oh yes, I remember you well.’
‘What are you doing here in south London?’ I asked.
‘Visiting Catholic prisoners at Wandsworth Prison.’
‘Ah yes.’
He then scrutinised me for a moment before saying, ‘So, are you a priest yet?’

I didn’t succumb to his ‘hard-sell’ then or at any other time, but in a sense I did
fulfil his almost-command to ‘become a priest’ – by portraying so many of them
on stage and screen through the subsequent years.
My latest incarnation, a German Jesuit priest, an atomic-bomb survivor in
Hiroshima, is one that I have worked on during lockdown – it’s an extraordinary
story and he comes across as a very special priest, not that he would ever have
described himself as such.

This performance, THE PRIEST’S TALE, was
filmed and livestreamed on August 6th but is still available to view on Vimeo at
https://vimeo.com/438259377 or by going to http://www.sandsfilms.co.uk and
clicking on theatre events. (There’s also a wonderful Japanese violinist, Chihiro Ono, who provides musical interludes.)

But why? Why all these priests? A chap I met and talked to about this a few
years back, and who claimed to be psychic, said it was obvious.
‘You must have been a priest in a past life.’
Of course! That’s the answer I should have given to the priest advising me on
the film.
‘You should become a priest.’ ‘No need, I’ve already done that – in a previous life.’

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