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Andy Nyman on ‘Hangmen’ and the Complexity of Extremity

The year is 1965, in the United Kingdom, and the government has just abolished hanging. Top-notch hangman Harry (played by David Threlfall) now spends his days owning a pub with his wife Alice (Tracie Bennett) and daughter, Shirley (Gaby French), drinking the minutes away. When an unexpected stranger named Mooney (Alfie Allen) appears at the pub, Harry’s world is flipped upside down.

Andy Nyman plays the role of Syd, Harry’s useless and crude ex-assistant who has a deadly secret up his sleeve. I spoke with Andy and got a “metaphorical” front-row seat into the actor’s intelligent, charming, and creative mind.

 

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Andy Nyman is a force in the theater, TV, film, and mentalist worlds 

The English artist has spent his career making strides on stage, on screen, and in the realm of magic. His credits include Teyve in the West End revival of Fiddler on the Roof, Winston Churchill in Peaky Blinders, vice chancellor Jonty de Wolfe in the British sitcom Campus, and appearances in Kick-Ass 2, Jungle Cruise, and much more.

Andy’s childhood hobby of doing magic tricks eventually became a vital part of his career. He’s spent over 25 years inventing magic, teaching magicians, as well as co-writing and directing theatrical shows and TV series with English mentalist and illusionist Derren Brown

Andy’s acting and his supernatural work help each other co-exist within the same space. “I do use an awful lot of memory techniques that I’ve learned within the mentalism world that really help speed that process up,” he explains, “especially when you can’t get it right, you can find these little pegs that you can just hook it onto. So you just never forget it.”

These mentalist techniques also help Andy as he steps into the role of a cheated henchman each night.

Hangmen tells the humorous but dark tale of morality in regards to crime and punishment

Playwright Martin McDonagh, also known for directing the Golden Globe-winning film Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, frames Hangmen as a satire within a deeper political and social environment. “It is scream out loud, funny. It’s the most amazing thriller, with the most brilliant twists and turns that happen in the plot.” Andy says, “Then, beneath all of that, it has incredible stuff to say about lots of things from capital punishment to masculinity.” 

 

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For Andy Nyman, Syd continues to evolve with each performance

Initially, Andy didn’t play the role of Syd when the show premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2015. After falling in love with the production (at first sight), he got the opportunity to take over the role of Syd for all 2016 performances in the West End. Now, Andy steps on that Broadway stage every night, feeling lucky to immerse himself into Syd’s funny and shady personality, each time slightly different.

 

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