It was half-past one in the morning. Green as grass, young Mr Jacobi rose to leave. "Derek," said the great man, "might I ask you a very personal question." All atremble lest the lovely evening be spoiled by a lunge, he stood his ground. "Are you circumcised?" "No, no, no," he answered. "Why do you ask?" Coward replied: "What a pity. What a great pity. You're a very fine actor, Derek, but you'll never be a great actor until you're circumcised." "Why?" he asked, edging for the door. "Freedom, dear boy," Coward explained, mystifyingly. "Freedom!" Jacobi was out the door and away.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Derek Jacobi: Needlepoint Whiz
A fine portrait of actor Derek Jacobi as he stars in the west End revival of A Voyage Round My Father. (If only I were rich, I'd be off to London four times a year and swallow up all the theater I could.) Bedridden as a lad, Jacobi became a whiz at needlepoint and embroidery and tells of how moving it was when his father recently passed away and Jacobi found a stash of pillowcases all cross-stitched when he was ten. But the kicker is a puzzling, witty anecdote involving Noel Coward, with whom a very young Jacobi spent a charming evening at dinner and then drinks in Coward's hotel room: