Despite the pandemic, it’s been a busy year for actor Angus Yellowlees. Not only did he star in Series 8 of the new Endeavour detective show, being screened later this year, but he also landed a lead part in Touching The Void, currently at Oxford Playhouse.
Filmed in Oxford over the past few months, Angus starred in an episode directed by Endeavour star Shaun Evans himself, and said Shaun was a delight to work with and hugely respected by everyone on the Endeavour set.
“Everyone respects Shaun. It was incredible to see how he worked”
“It was such an amazing experience. Shaun Evans is a lovely man and a dream to work with. Endeavour is such an amazing show – so it was a real privilege to work on. Everyone respects Shaun. It was incredible to see how he worked.”
Filmed in one of the Oxford colleges, Angus remains tight-lipped about his part or any plot spoilers, but was delighted to be on location in Oxford and to get out of London for a change.
As if that wasn’t enough, Angus was then recast in the stage version of Touching The Void, the harrowing story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates‘ now infamous descent of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes, which nearly ended in disaster.
“Yes it is the one where Simon cuts Joe’s (played by Josh Williams) rope. Those are the two things I get asked about all the time,” Angus laughs.
Their dramatic struggle for survival, as recounted by Joe in his best-selling memoir, BAFTA-winning film and now stage adaption, is being brought to Oxford Playhouse as part of its Together Again reopening campaign.
Delighted to be rejoining the cast of David Greig’s thrilling adaptation, having played the part in the pre-pandemic sold out West End run, Angus is also euphoric to be on stage again, after theatres across the country were closed during Covid.
“It’s been a strange year because we closed in the West End three weeks before lockdown and then Endeavour came along which was hugely exciting, but getting back into theatres has been a blessing,” he says.
Touching The Void was Angus’ stage debut, helped in part by the fact that he’s an avid climber himself, and while a unique multi-camera set-up and 3D soundscape help to recreate the pairs death-defying experiences, Angus knows he can add to the authenticity of the production.
“Climbing isn’t just about adrenaline – it’s about problem solving, strength and gymnastic ability, but the rush you get is second to none when you are on a tiny edge with a slack rope behind you. It’s so thrilling,” he says.
“So yes I know what I’m doing and how to make it look as if I’m climbing on stage and to sell that to the audience, which helps.”
Angus also went to visit Simon in the Lake District to get a measure of the man before the play opened. “The stage version of Touching The Void is not a biopic but I wanted to tell Simon’s story as truthfully as possible because he was unfairly vilified by the tabloids at the time. I wanted to peel back the layers, to tell his story and show that he’s not a villain or a victim. He’s actually a very pragmatic and principled man so I wanted to find the reality in his experience.”
Currently in rehearsals at The Bristol Old Vic where the live show will be streamed to Oxford Playhouse audiences in their homes from tonight, Angus is excited by the developments in digital theatre.
“Having had time away from the production we’ve had time to polish it, so I genuinely think this version of Touching The Void will be the best yet.”
Touching The Void runs at Oxford Playhouse from May 27 – Sat 29 May, and is screened directly into your homes. Tickets from http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com