Thursday 20 Nov 08
I have a beard again. This is my second proper beard this year. It's actually only my second beard ever, but I am sensing a trend. The first one was for The Seagull, as everyone Russian, or at least everyone in a Chekhov play, has a beard. Even some of the girls. This one is for The Tempest, because everyone in Shakespeare, especially royal people from the court of something or other, have beards. I mean, duh. Even Shakespeare had one.
The thing about beards is that they are higher maintenance than they look. There is the issue of food getting stuck in them, never a good way to impress new friends. Also there is that weird slurping you have to do whenever you take a drink of something, to get the excess liquid into your mouth where it belongs.
And then we come to the grooming. You see? It's a lot more work than it looks. There is the contsant trimming, snipping and, if you are a gentleman of a certain age and have begun to diguise the ravages of time on other follicles on your head, there is regular colouring. Yes, can you imagine? I have become one of those people who dyes his beard. Toupees and corsets beckon I fear.
But the biggest dilemma about beard management is where to draw the line. Beards don't go all the way down your neck you know. (Unless you're playing a blacksmith or crazy person or both). There is a point at which a razor line is drawn, and the tuft stops and the shaving begins. The received method is to do it just below the jawline, but there are fierce deabtes among beardy types about what constitutes the most stylish and manly cut-off point. George Michael - never a full beardite, more just a groomed scruffer -prefers a radical line which also aids the illusion of firmness in the chin area. I, after several attempts doing it too high (well, your jaw moves, doesn't it?) was delighted to discover that the costume designer of The Tempest, Sandy Powell, wanted me to wear a ruff, so, as nothing of my body is revealed below the neck (apart from my hands) I am spared any self-consciouness in this area altogether. Hurrah.
Ruffs are a little difficult to co-ordinate in my civilian life, however.