Damian Lewis read an emotional tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory last night (25 January) during a poetry performance at the National Theatre.
The show was dedicated to the memory of McCrory, who died from breast cancer last April at the age of 52, and featured a recording of the late Peaky Blinders actor reading poetry at a previous year’s event.
“This evening is dedicated to her and it’s perfect, because Helen loved the National Theatre,” said Lewis. “One person whose thunder would absolutely not be stolen was Helen McCrory.”
The show was based on poetry advocate Allie Esiri’s latest anthology, A Poet for Every Day of the Year, and featured readings from some of McCrory’s acting colleagues and friends such as Simon Russell Beale, Lesley Sharp, Fay Ripley and Danny Sapani.
Poems performed on the night included comic verse such as Spike Milligan’s “You Must Never Bath In An Irish Stew” and the former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy’s “Mrs Icarus”.
According to the Daily Mail, Esiri said: “We dedicated the evening to Helen, and Damian said a few words, but we just wanted to get on and do the show. It’s what she would have told us to do – ‘OK, enough already, get on with the show!’ She loved poetry and I think she would have been pleased to be kind of here with us. It felt right.”
She added: “Damian and Helen really helped to get poetry out to people. When you are stuck at home with Covid but can’t quite take on a novel, a lot of people have been turning to poetry. Tonight we chose poems that will hopefully have chimed with people who have been going through a lot over the last two years. Learning from adversity is something many people have experienced over the past two years during the pandemic. My mantra during this difficult time has always been to tell myself ‘everything is going to be all right’.’
This led into Lewis reading Derek Mahon’s “Everything Is Going To Be All Right”, before the evening’s performance concluded with a video of McCrory reading Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese”.