Pretending to be Me

Devised by Tom Courtenay, from the writing of Philip Larkin, after an idea by Michael Godley

Pretending to be Me, a witty, intimate and affectionate tribute to the poet Philip Larkin, devised by and starring Sir Tom Courtenay, transferred directly to London after its acclaimed sell-out season at the West Yorkshire Playhouse, where it opened in November 2002.

Pretending to be Me is a hilarious solo tour de force, infused with Larkin’s unmistakable acerbic wit. Hull-born Courtenay displays an extraordinary affinity with Larkin, shifting seamlessly from observations from Larkin’s letters and journals into some of his most memorable poems. The performance is set during a single day in Larkin’s life, as he moves from a much loved home into a ‘dreary little house’. Surrounded by packing cases, making himself endless cups of tea and playing some of his favourite jazz LPs, he reflects wryly on his life and work.

Tom Courtenay has played many memorable roles in theatre, film and television. In recognition of his illustrious career he received a Knighthood in the 2001 New Year's Honours List.

Philip Larkin was one of the foremost figures in 20th Century poetry.  Larkin was Librarian at the University of Hull for many years and a writer of essays and reviews. Protective of his privacy, and not having written poetry for a decade, he turned down the opportunity to succeed Sir John Betjeman as Poet Laureate in 1984, but was made Companion of Honour the following year, shortly before his death, aged 63 years.

Philip Larkin on writing:

- If a poem isn’t more entertaining to write than going to the pictures, it won’t be entertaining to read.

On poetic inspiration:

- Deprivation is to me what daffodils were to Wordsworth.

And, on his habitual state of mind:

- Depression hangs over me as if I were Iceland.