Actor develops incontinence and insomnia after ‘dark, gritty’ pantomime performance
Darren West, known for roles in The Bill and Casualty, held nothing back as he strove for perfection as King Rat in Dick Whittington.
METHOD RAT KING: Darren West's turn as King Rat in Milton Keynes has divided opinion. (Spencer Igaholo/Inspire Me! Productions Ltd.)
Actor Darren West has revealed he has developed acute nocturnal double incontinence whilst playing "a really messed up and intense" King Rat in a pantomime production of Dick Whittington at the Milton Keynes Forum late last year.
In conversation with the Buckinghamshire Amateur Dramatics Quarterly, Mr. West claims that the method acting technique he used for the role took its toll on him emotionally and physically.
“Every night I was scurrying about on all fours through the corridors of the Travelodge I was staying in,” explained the London-based actor whose credits include a mugger in The Bill, a prescription medication addict in Casualty and a voter concerned about immigration in a Vote Leave EU Referendum campaign broadcast.
“I began to feel the rodent inside of me. It wasn’t me in control any more. I’d hide in the lift waiting for someone and then - WAAAGGGHHHHH!!! - I’d launch myself at their ankles. I even had a Hen Party call the police.”
The thespian sparked controversy after launching himself feet first into the audience front rows during performances of the pantomime, having to be separated from furious parents by his fellow cast members on several occasions.
“As soon as I got the gig I told Thompson [Simon, the director] that I wanted to make it dark. I wanted to make King Rat gritty. I wanted the viewers to be unnerved by him. Get panto back to its dark roots.
“Did it affect me, personally? Sure it did. My King Rat was terrifying. I was terrified! First I started wetting the bed. Next I was shitting it too. I went weeks without sleep. Those Travelodge beds - they’ve gone for comfort over practicality so the mattress was soaking it up like a sponge. It was disgusting. I was living like an animal. But that was perfect for the role.
“Eventually I was smearing it over the walls. The room stank. The hotel staff absolutely hated me but, sorry sweethearts, if you don’t like it don’t hire rooms to performing artists.”
West eventually parted ways with the production after an incident where fellow cast members claimed he defecated on stage during a matinee performance, something which West denies.
“Of course I didn’t actually shit on stage. I’m a performer, not a dog. I ordered a fake turd off the internet - theatrical grade, very realistic - lubed it up liberally and slid it up my arse before the show. I clamped my buttocks together for the first 30 minutes or so and, at the appropriate moment, squatted down and released the latex replica.”
West is philosophical about his prospects of appearing in pantomime this year. “I’ve made my statement. Directors and agents know what I offer now. If they want a silly, whimsical panto then they have got Shane Richie’s number. There’s a hundred former Big Brother contestants they can contact. But if they want to make something challenging, something with artistic merit - they know where to find me.”