A fascinating journey through the life and career of actor Warwick Davis was a triumph at the Guildhall Arts Centre.
Thursday’s An Audience With Warwick Davis was an entertaining mix of storytelling, film clips and audience participation which all combined to make an enthralling evening in aid of two charities – St Barnabas Hospice in Grantham and Little People UK. Two members of Warwick’s family work for the hospice and he is patron of Little People UK. The show raised about £2,700 for them.
Warwick is a keen film maker himself and gave his Grantham audience an exclusive look at the home movie he made when he took on his first film role as an Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. The diminutive actor was only 11 when he got the role after his grandmother heard a plea from the film makers for people of a certain height to play the small bear-like character.
Warwick showed us an incredible film he made at Elstree Studios in which the stars – Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher – all play along for him in his own small movie.
Warwick continued to take us through his career reading passages from his autobiography and showing more fascinating clips including another self-made film of him making the movie Willow with Val Kilmer and Joanne Whalley in the 1980s.
There were laughs aplenty, but Warwick was also keen to move in a more serious direction when talking about the condition he was born with, which caused his dwarfism. He told us about his son who died after just nine days and about his wife and son and daughter, who were also born with conditions causing dwarfism, but who now lead fulfilling lives.
While a serious subject, Warwick will always look at the funny side of his diminutive size and showed us a clip from the series he made with Ricky Gervais called Life’s Too Short, in which he has a spy hole put in his front door only to realise he can’t see anybody’s face through it.
After the break, Warwick said it was an ambition of his to have his own talk show. He had promised to bring along a big star to interview on the stage but they were not able to be there, so he persuaded a member of the audience to go on stage and sit on his couch to be interviewed. And so Peter Kay became Warwick’s first guest. A familiar name, but this guest was not the comedian but an IT manager and ballroom dance enthusiast. This part of the show could have fallen flat on its face but Warwick conducted an amusing interview and Peter played along nicely.
Finally it was time for the audience to ask questions, the most unusual of which came from the Mayor of Grantham. Coun Ian Selby told Warwick he had ridden a Shire horse in this year’s Carnival parade, and so Warwick, if you were to ride something in the carnival, what would it be? The actor looked genuinely perplexed by this and took some time to come up with his answer – a Segway.
Warwick put on an entertaining and sometimes thought-provoking show for two well-deserving charities, giving us a glimpse into an incredible life and career which continues to go from strength to strength with the current series of Celebrity Squares and a forthcoming second series of Weekend Escapes.