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The Definitive Interview - Tim Fitzhigham

David Cox

Aug 24, 2022

DarkChat first saw Tim Fitzhigham and Thom Tuck do MacBeth in 2019. This year former DarkChatter Chris watched the show when Nick Helm was guest director, and also loved it.

Tim took some time out to tell us what it is like performing in the Scottish play ... in Scotland and flyering Hugh Laurie!

You are now an Edinburgh veteran. Do you still get excited as another festival looms into sight?

Oh yes, Edinburgh has been my summer home for over half my life, like off season goose I fly north for summer

We saw this show in 2019. Whose idea was it?

I wanted to do something new with Thom and I had been working on the idea of live directing a Shakespeare show while it happened for something else I was doing. I'd been doing workshops around this (but they were not primarily for comedy).

Then Thom and I were in a Mark Watson long show together and I thought why not try it there. I didn't tell Thom what we were doing, but got Mark to direct me and Thom doing a Henry V speech. It was very funny and Thom was brilliant so I knew then there was something there. We discussed it for Edinburgh and I knew we should do the Scottish play. It all came together from that.

The director we saw was Ahir Shah. What guest directors have you had so far or have lined up this year?

In a way it's good I'm writing this late as I wouldn't have known who the directors were but we had several brilliant ones again this year: John Robertson, James Nokoise, Alison Spittle, Esyllt Sears, Andrew O'Neill, Richard Vranch, Bilal Zafar, Adrian Minkowicz, Mitch Benn, Ed Aczel, Anna Morris, Sunil Patel, Daniel Sloss, Josie Long and Clive Anderson

Will there be any changes from the previous show?

Yes. We've added props corner and musical corner - now we have lots more props and the ability to play music...I am very excited...Thom is less so...

Were you surprised how well it was received?

Very surprised it was even a the fact it was well received was very exciting to both of us...

It was superbly shambolic when we saw it. Is that how it goes most nights?

Shambolic? This is Shakespeare...we never stop trying to make it the very best we can...although it is always a little tricky given it's a 2 and a half hour play, and we have 55 minutes in the venue...and it's got 48 parts and there are only 2 of us...arguably not enough actors...

When did you and Thom first come across each other?

Thom is better placed to answer this - his memory for these things is keen - but he has told me that he reviewed something I did when he was a student (or just out of University), so some time around the early 2000's - we might be hovering around our 20th year TimandThomiversary... I should try and find the review...I'm sure it read like a 3 star....

We have been following Thom since his Penny Dreadful days and he is an Edinburgh legend for his off-stage antics. What is your favourite Thom Tuck story?

I enjoy watching Thom happily winding down post show with a pint, cigarette and guitar attempting to further his main career as the UK's leading tribute band to the Mountain Goats and I suppose a lot of my happy times have this scene somewhere in the one of the many stories of Thom that begins with 'I was playing the Mountain Goats...'

Why did you choose " Macbeth"? Is it a play you like?

It's a grave tragedy...could we have chosen anything else?

Which Shakespeare play did you study at school?

I studied quite a few...I liked them...Merchant of Venice, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar...don't get me wrong I had to work at them as there's a myth that people just read Shakespeare and understand it immediately...that's not often true (and even very clever people often have to pause and think), it takes work like studying any language but the rewards are there if you dig in and look at the text...don't expect to understand it straight away and enjoy the finding out part - it's like unwrapping a present or a cake.

Were you tempted to pick a different one of his other plays this year?

Tempted but we both still thought we should have another go at the Scottish play, we felt we hadn't quite hit peak tragic event yet...

How has your line-learning been going this year?

We learn half the play each - sometimes it's a different half...

Is it part of his contract that Thom plays all the ladies parts?

He fought very hard to play lady Scottish play, the training he puts in is extraordinary and he inhabits the role like all the greats...Sarah Siddons, Sarah Bernhardt and Judi Dench...and now Thom...

We saw you a few years ago at a " Best of The Fest" show. Is it fun doing short spots?

I love it - stand up is a thing I've done for decades and every time I get to do it, I love's been such a difficult time for stand up these last couple of years and I hope it's led people to understand that it has a value and a place and for stand ups to come back with even funnier ideas, jokes and stories...

My first festival was back in 1986 watching Rowan Atkinson doing a midnight show at the Playhouse Theatre. Do you remember the first shows you saw?

I grew up on stories of the Edinburgh Fringe before I arrived at it, my great aunt was at the first fringe festival over 70 years I couldn't wait to work out what it was and if I had a place in it...I've certainly seen some cracking shows at it...I think I enjoyed the early Late N Live's that I saw before it moved to the venue it's in now. I couldn't believe that I got to see comedians I really enjoyed all on one bill, all doing things that were silly or dangerous and enjoying every second of it. I think Edinburgh for me was also about the things that you didn't expect to happen. One year sometime in the 90s I fliered someone in the pub at the top of Blair Street and he came to the show. It was a weird audience that day as they were all watching this man to see when he laughed, if he laughed, they laughed...backstage I was talking to my mate who was in the show...he said 'how did Hugh Laurie come to be here' I just thought the man I fliered looked like Hugh Laurie but of course it was him. He spoke to us afterwards and was complementary about the presumably terrible things we were doing...' a well oiled caster on a parquet floor'

Who have been your favourite performers over the years?

Milligan...always go back to Milligan...

Other than your own show who else should people be looking out for this year?

Other than all the fabulous directors listed above - many, if not all of whom, have solo shows...I've heard Stewart Lee is very good...

Thanks to Tim for his time, we look forward to seeing you in Edinburgh again soon.

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