“Lenny Henry and Paulette Randall calculate they’ve been friends for 24 years.
Such is the ready banter between the comedian-turned-serious-actor and the acclaimed theatre and TV director that my list of questions soon becomes largely irrelevant.
‘I was s***ting myself,’ says Henry, 54, about taking on the lead in Randall’s production of August Wilson’s play Fences, which comes to the West End this week. ‘But because I knew Paulette had done it before, that was my lifeline.’
But she hadn’t done this one before, had she? ‘No,’ says Randall, wide-eyed.
‘You told me you had!’ says a mock-outraged Henry.
‘I might have told you that just to make you feel safer,’ she shrugs.
‘You lying brute!’
Whatever means Randall employed, the outcome has been triumphant. Fences comes to London after a successful British tour – and Henry is thrilling in the role of Troy Maxson, the garbage-collecting tragic hero who harbours stubborn hopes in 1950s Pittsburgh.”