Rowan Atkinson, the British actor best known for his comic turns in Johnny English, Blackadder and Mr Bean, has received astonishingly good reviews for his first serious stage role in 25 years. Atkinson, 58, plays the central character St John Quatermaine in Simon Gray's 'Quartermaine's Terms', about a hapless and lonely English language teacher working at a Cambridge school in the early 1960s.
The Guardian's theatre critic Michael Billington singled out the Blackadder star for particular praise, saying Atkinson, "reminds us that he is a highly capable actor." Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph awarded the play five stars, writing, "A great play, beautifully directed and acted by an outstanding cast - but it is also an evening tinged with sadness." Speaking about his unlikely return to the stage, Atkinson told Radio Four's Front Row programme, "I don't like the idea of just having a stab at things. I'd like to play any part that I feel as though I could play well." The play's director, Richard Eyre, said that his leading man could star in "almost anything." The comedy star made a high profile appearance at the Olympics Opening Ceremony in July last year, where he led The London Symphony Orchestra as the hapless Mr Bean.
Revered playwright Simon Gray died in 2008 aged 71. His last play to enjoy success was the West End revival of Butley, starring Dominic West, though he is also known for his memoirs The Smoking Diaries.
'Quatermaine's Terms' runs at the Wyndham Theatre in London until April 2013.