TWO distinguished speakers will share the stage at the Georgian Theatre Royal in Richmond to celebrate the life – and many deaths – of one of the most famous and influential actors of all time.

David Garrick (1717-79) pioneered a natural and realistic acting style that revolutionised performance in the 18th century. He was particularly well-known for his innovative interpretations of Shakespeare, especially the death scenes.

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of Garrick’s birth, Laurence Sach and James Harriman-Smith will give two very different presentations on the acting legend, who was also one of the leading playwrights of his day and manager of the Drury Lane Theatre.

They will draw on a wide range of illustrative material with additional live action from the Barnard Castle Players.

Mr Sach, freelance writer, director and critic, will follow the development of the theatre from the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 to its popular expansion in the 18th century. This will include a reading of The Farmer’s Return from London, a comic interlude written by Garrick.

James Harriman-Smith, a lecturer in English literature at Newcastle University, will explore death and the legacy of the actor, with particular focus on Garrick and Edmund Kean (1787-1833). Kean occasionally performed on the Richmond stage.

There are morbid parallels between the actors. Both excelled at death scenes and the bodies of both were subjected to autopsies.

Tickets for The Life and Deaths of David Garrick on Friday, October 6, cost £6. Call the box office on 01748 825252 or online at