Rik Mayall 'quits play'

Rumoured walkout only days before opening

Rik Mayall has reportedly walked out of a theatre show less than a week before it is due to begin.

He has been rehearsing for weeks to appear in a revival of the farce Balmoral at the Theatre Royal Bath.

In the advance publicity, the theatre said Mayall was ‘born to play the part of Skinner’, the warden of the Royal residence after it is turned into a writers’ commune.

However, the Daily Mail reports that 51-year-old Mayall will be replaced by an understudy when the previews begin on Monday, and it’s not known when - or if - he will return. The play opens officially on Wednesday.

Some rumours are that he is ill, while other cast members are said to believe he has walked out of the production permanently. The theatre has not responded to a request for comment.

Balmoral was one of the few turkeys written by Michael Frayn, and flopped when it premiered in the Eighties. One cast member told the Mail: ‘It was a terrible play then and it still is.’

The play is set in 1937, after a revolution in Britain has deposed the Monarchy, turning Balmoral over to the writers Skinner must keep in check.

The production – presented by Sir Peter Hall - is due to tour after finishing its run in Bath, with dates in Oxford, Cambridge and Kingston among those scheduled.

The understudy is Steve McNeil - who played one of the stooges in Brendon Burns's if-comedy-winning show So I Suppose THIS Is Offensive now.

Eleven years ago, Mayall spent five days in a coma after crashing a quadbike at his Devon home. And in 2007, he collapsed on stage during a performance of his West End version of The New Statesman. He pulled out of several dates in the regional tour later that year, again citing ill health.

Published: 31 Jul 2009

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