The playwright pays tribute to the director’s complex mind, sophistication and clairvoyant sense of what would work

Michael Billington: ‘Michell brought the unexpected out of actors’

The colossal heart of Roger Michell stopped beating last week, long before he was done with it. It was one tragic loss too many and his friends and collaborators are inconsolable. In a treacherous business, Rog was one of the very few you could count on. He exemplified loyalty. Once he’d committed, he was behind you all the way, there would be no cold feet, no self-serving half-truths, career moves or better offers.

He prized new plays because he was more interested in creation than interpretation and had no real interest in drawing attention to himself. He pushed me to keep writing them, certain that a theatre legacy was the best kind, meeting up regularly to will another one out of me like an especially dedicated midwife. He believed theatre was medicinal, the elixir of life. Once he asked me when I was going to write “the big one” and I felt ashamed for keeping him waiting.

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