Hamlet (dying) kills the King,
who tried so hard to top him.
We walk on stage, pick up the Prince.
For God's sake do not drop him!

Toby Stephens is the son of Dame Maggie Smith and the actor Sir Robert Stephens. I searched for his name in "google" and read that he is a fully paid-up member of the “aristocracy of British Theatre". A good-looking, well-spoken man with a very strong stage presence. In short, he has all the attributes to be extremely intimidating.


Our first rehearsal scene with him, ironically, is actually the last act of the play. Four of us are to carry his dead body on our shoulders off the stage. We are to lift him as one from the prone position. This would be intimidating in any circumstance, but to know that we are carrying the hopes of the Royal Shakespeare Company just adds to our tension.

We approach his body nervously one positioned at each limb. On the order to lift, we bend and place his arms around our necks. After a day of intense rehearsal, his deodorant has finally broken down and there are huge damp patches under both of his arm-pits. There is a distinct whiff of the “aristocracy of British Theatre".

As one the five of us break-out in laughter, "sorry guys" says Mr Stephens and the ice is broken