On the evening of the day in question, the late Michael Bryant, playing Enorbarbus, turned upstage and muttered en passant, "Well I suppose a fuck is quite out of the question now".
An extra-textual remark, but such was Michael's never other than immaculate diction that it was heard clearly by the first ten rows of the audience.
Michael was a character actor of great virtuosity and a mainstay of our Royal National Theatre for over twenty five years. Always a man of diligence and modesty, he was one of a small group of English actors who elevated whatever production they happened to be in.
When he played Polonius to Daniel Day-Lewis's Hamlet (in 1989), he stunned audiences with a pause. Giving instructions to an aide, he suddenly stopped speaking and searched his mind for his place in the play. After a long wait, he said, ''Where did I leave?'' The actor playing opposite him reminded him, and Mr. Bryant continued the dialogue.
He had waited so long that the audience wondered if it was Polonius or Mr. Bryant who had forgotten his lines. Actually, Mr. Bryant was word perfect in his Shakespeare. As an actress said later, in admiration, ''Michael does that every night,'' and, in so doing, he added a new dimension to Polonius. No longer was he a fussbudget. In Mr. Bryant's interpretation, he was an immensely caring and distressed parent.He remains a man I would have loved to meet in real life.