Sir Ian McKellen breaks silence after horror fall from stage in front of West End audience

19 June 2024, 12:04

Sir Ian McKellen has been playing John Falstaff in Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
Sir Ian McKellen has been playing John Falstaff in Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London. Picture: Getty

By Charlie Duffield

Sir Ian McKellen has expressed his thanks to NHS staff having received treatment following a fall on stage, and said he is "looking forward to returning to work".

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He was performing in the West End play Player Kings on Monday night when the 85-year-old suffered a fall on stage and was taken to hospital, with the play cancelled for several subsequent performances.

Sir Ian lost his footing during a fight scene whilst he was playing John Falstaff in Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

Sharing his support for the NHS on X, Sir Ian wrote: "I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and support.

"Since the accident, during a performance of Player Kings last night, my injuries have been diagnosed and treated by a series of experts, specialists and nurses working for the National Health Service.

"To them, of course, I am hugely indebted. They have assured me that my recovery will be complete and speedy and I am looking forward to returning to work."

Fans of the iconic actor expressed their support, with one writing: "Wishing one of my favourite actors of all time a speedy recovery!"

Another commented: "Glad you're still with us, Ian! Hoping you have a speedy recovery."

On Tuesday, the production shared a statement explaining that Wednesday's performances would be cancelled.

The rest of Monday and Tuesday's performances had already been cancelled in advance to give the actor time to rest and recuperate.

The statement read: “The performance on Wednesday 19 June will be cancelled following Ian McKellen’s fall during the performance of Player Kings on Monday (17 June).

“Bookers for the affected performance will be contacted by their point of purchase directly. We look forward to welcoming audiences back to the Noel Coward Theatre on Thursday 20 June.

"We are delighted that Ian is recovering well, and look forward to him returning to the production as soon as he is ready.

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"We will keep audiences updates regarding remaining performances this week.”

A spokesperson for the London theatre updated fans on Sir Ian's health, saying: "Following a scan, the brilliant NHS team have assured us that he will make a speedy and full recovery and Ian is in good spirits.

"The production has made the decision to cancel the performance on Tuesday June 18 so Ian can rest. Those affected will be contacted by their point of purchase as soon as possible tomorrow.”

The statement also thanked doctors Rachel and Lee who were “on hand in the audience” and to the venue staff “for their support”.

Sir Ian McKellen
Sir Ian McKellen. Picture: Getty

On Monday, after the fall happened, the audience were evacuated from the theatre and told the show would be cancelled.

Witness Charlie Johnson spoke to Good Morning Britain about the experience, and explained: "As we approached the interval of the play, there was a fight scene going on and there were strobe lights and then it all went dark; at which point you could see the silhouette of Sir Ian come out the wings.

"The way the stage works at the Noel Coward, there's a step down and that's where the stage meets the audience.

"I think what happened is he took his foot too far off that initial step and lost his balance and went headfirst into the audience.

"Within seconds, a blood curling stream arose from the actor and he was clearly in a lot of pain and screaming 'help me.'"

Player Kings is a production of Henry IV, parts one and two, adapted and directed by Robert Ice, and is scheduled to end its current run at the Noel Coward Theatre on Saturday.

The play will then be staged at the Bristol Hippodrome in July before moving on to Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

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