Ian McKellen expected to make ‘speedy recovery’ after falling off stage

<span>Ian McKellen plays John Falstaff in Player Kings.</span><span>Photograph: Manuel Harlan</span>
Ian McKellen plays John Falstaff in Player Kings.Photograph: Manuel Harlan

Ian McKellen was “in good spirits” and expected to make “a speedy and full recovery” after a fall during Monday evening’s performance of Player Kings, a spokesperson for the Noël Coward theatre in London has said.

McKellen was taken to hospital after the fall. The audience was evacuated from the West End theatre and informed that the evening show was cancelled.

A spokesperson for the theatre later confirmed that Tuesday evening’s performance had also been cancelled “so Ian can rest”. McKellen was expected to next appear in Wednesday’s matinee performance.

McKellen, 85, who plays John Falstaff, was in a battle scene involving the Prince of Wales and Henry Percy when he fell off the front of the stage. As the house lights came up, the actor cried out in pain and staff rushed to help, the BBC reported.

Paul Nero, a writer and broadcaster, wrote on X: “Audience shocked by Sir Ian McKellen’s fall off stage tonight at Noel Coward theatre. Staff working hard to help him. Thoughts with him, cast and crew.”

An audience member, Paul Critchley, a Methodist minister from Norfolk, told the PA news agency: “Sir Ian seemed to trip as he moved downstage to take a more active part in the scene.

“He picked up momentum as he moved downstage which resulted in him falling off the stage directly in front of the audience.

“The house lights came up very quickly as the stage management and front of house team dealt with the incident. We were evacuated immediately so that Sir Ian could be treated in privacy.

“An announcement was made by theatre management that the show had been cancelled, that Sir Ian was receiving treatment and an ambulance had been called.

“It was a shock to witness his fall and I wish him a speedy recovery. My thoughts are also with his fellow cast members, stage crew and front of house team at the Noel Coward Theatre.”

Another member of the audience, Sandro Trapani, told the BBC the incident was “very shocking”.

“I really hope that he is going to be all right,” she said. “As far as I saw, he was conscious because he was asking for assistance.”

Player Kings is a production of Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II, and started its 12-week West End run in April.

The play, adapted and directed by Robert Icke, is due to move to the Bristol Hippodrome in July and will also be staged in Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

McKellen’s career has spanned more than six decades. On screen he is best known for playing Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, based on the books by JRR Tolkien.

On the stage he has played Shakespearean characters including Richard II, Macbeth, Coriolanus and King Lear.

His many acting credits have led to a number of accolades over the years including several Olivier Awards.