- March 31, 2020
It is with great sadness that we report that actor, writer, comedian and producer David Mounfield has passed away. We asked his close friend and creative collaborator Brian Mitchell to celebrate the life of this much loved local artist
David Mounfield – actor, writer, comedian and producer – was my friend. He was everybody’s friend; at least, that is how it often felt in rehearsals, when it seemed the whole world was trying to call him. He had a talent for friendship that amounted to a super power. Audiences immediately warmed to him, and would sidle up after a show to chat. But he was more than just my friend – he was my esteemed colleague, my mentor, guide, brother-in-arms, partner-in-crime, and right-hand man – and the hole he leaves in the lives of his family and everyone else who loved him is impossible to fill.
We first met at Sussex University in 1988. He was sporting an unfashionable mac and less fashionable shirt and trousers; I instantly recognised a kindred spirit. Soon, with Laurence Relton and Joseph Nixon, we founded sketch troupe The Ornate Johnsons, later taking on Glen Richardson, Joanna Neary and Clea Smith. Jerry Sadowitz, an early champion, helped us bag a sell-out residency at Soho Theatre, leading to a half-hour special for BBC4. Other highlights included ‘The Cheeky Guide to Brighton Stage Show’ (co-written with David Bramwell), Jo Caulfield’s Radio 4 series, and his role as Terry-Thomas-esque cad ‘Babbington’ in ‘The Ministry of Biscuits’, which Philip Reeve and I wrote for him in 1998.
Somehow he fitted in a career apart from me; in many respects more illustrious. He appeared in Tom Stoppard’s ‘Indian Ink’ at The Almeida, ran club nights ‘The Semi-Skimmed Comedy Dairy’ and ‘Comedy at the Con’, was Mr. Cooshay in cult hit ‘This Is Jinsy’, and was known to millions as ‘Geoffrey’ in ‘Count Arthur Strong’s Radio Show’ (Radio 4). And, in 2007, he surpised us all by co-writing, with Ross Gurney-Randall, the sensitive and serious ‘Follow Me’, winning Beth FitzGerald many accolades for her protrayal of Ruth Ellis.
But he reserved his greatest pride for our theatre company The Foundry Group. From 2010 we took shows including ‘Big Daddy Vs. Giant Haystacks’ to hundreds of small theatres, village halls and community centres, sleeping Rory-Stewart-like in strangers’ houses and getting to know this wonderful land, its sights, and its people. Last year, to commemorate the Alcock and Brown centenary, we toured ‘Those Magnificent Men’ to aerodromes and air museums around Britain and to Clifden, Ireland, the site of their landing.
Towards the end of the play comes this passage:
ALCOCK: (READING)…’I believe that ever since man, but recently conscious of his own existence, saw the birds, he has desired to emulate them. Among the myths and fables of every race are tales of human flight. The paradise of most religions is reached through the air and through the air many gods and prophets have passed from earth to their respective heavens, and all authentic angels are endowed with wings.’
BROWN: I say that’s absolutely beautiful. Who wrote that?
ALCOCK: You did.
While I was performing this section one night at Bodmin Aerodrome, a swallow flew into the hangar and chirruped along with me. I found it an almighty struggle getting through it without welling up. I don’t think I’d be equal to that challenge again.
Land safely, old friend. We had a great journey together.
Dave had long been a friend of all at Latest and we send our love and deepest sympathy to his wife Lynn and son Edward. RIP