Adrian Edmondson’s latest stage role sees the former Young Ones star in the grip of a mid-life crisis.
Bits of Me Are Falling Apart is a new play based on William Leith’s 2008 bestselling memoir about a man who is sleeping on an old mattress in his office after the collapse of his relationship.
Co-written by Edmondson and Steve Marmion (who also directs), the one-man show opened at London’s Soho Theatre this week.
Edmondson is best known for his roles in anarchic TV sitcoms The Young Ones and Bottom, the latter of which he co-wrote with his comedy partner Rik Mayall, who died in 2014.
He is no stranger to the Soho district, having been part of the alternative comedy circuit that flourished there in the early 1980s at the Comedy Store and the Comic Strip Club.
By coincidence, Edmondson’s daughter Beattie – the second of his three daughters with Ab Fab star Jennifer Saunders – will be performing in her own comedy show at the Soho Theatre at the same time as her father.
Speaking to the BBC on opening night, Edmondson talks about adapting Leith’s book, the future of his folk/punk band, The Bad Shepherds, and addresses the rumours about him being cast in the next Star Wars film.
What was it about William Leith’s book that spoke to you most?
It seemed to fit what we’re all thinking about, and it seemed to do it in a very witty and cogent way.
William’s tangents are very QI-like – you suddenly get a riff about the Normandy beaches being like your immune system. It all made sense to me. It was all written in the first person so his language was ripe for speaking.
When did you think it might work on stage?
I read it about five years ago and I immediately thought it was ripe for performance. I sent it off to one producer and heard nothing back. And then I met William – I thought I’d better get the rights to it – and he seemed very up for it.
I kept trying to write it myself and I couldn’t get it to work and then someone suggested I work with Steve Marmion [the artistic director at Soho Theatre].
How are you coping with your own middle age?
A lot like William. Sometimes it seems perfectly fine, sometime its feels painful. I guess we’re all heading that way.
What’s it like performing back in Soho where you first started out?
It feels like being home. When we were in Soho in the 80s and 90s, this theatre used to be a synagogue. People say areas mustn’t change – there’s a big campaign at the moment on Soho being gentrified. Areas do change, otherwise they become museums.
What’s the future for your band The Bad Shepherds?
I think that project’s had its day. Our agent started booking stuff for this summer and I started thinking, ‘I just don’t want to do it.’ I love the band, there’s nothing I’m embarrassed about, but I do feel we’ve done it, and we’d be just be doing it again.
It is with some sadness [that we’re breaking up], but I plan to do something else musical.
I think it was a brilliant idea and I want it to remain as a brilliant thing that happened – like The Young Ones, we only made 12 episodes of that.
Is it true that you are going to be in Star Wars Episode VIII?
I wouldn’t know if I am or not. I can tell you I’ve signed a great big non-disclosure agreement for something – I’ve no idea what it was! [Laughs a lot].
Bits of Me Are Falling Apart runs at the Soho Theatre until 3 December.