The Sunset Limited is a two-hander play that captures the interaction between two men who meet by chance and destiny on a New York subway.

Through the dialogue exchanged between the two, the audience is introduced to subject matters including redemption and free will. Written and directed by Cormac McCarthy the play which debut in 2006 was also adapted for film in 2011 starring Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones (who also directed it). The play premiered in London at the Boulevard Theatre directed by Terry Johnson. Gary Beadle plays ‘Black‘ alongside Jasper Britton as ‘White‘ is.

We spoke to Gary to discuss his character in the play, what impact the part had on him and exactly what audiences can take away from watching the performance…

You play the role of ‘Black’ in The Sunset Limited can you tell us about your character and how he fits into this World?

Black is a spiritually lead man who has a chequered past. A criminal and alcoholic background of which he managed to find redemption.

What most interests you about the dialogue between ‘Black‘ and Jasper Britton’s character ‘White‘ and the situation they are in?

I find not only the dialogue of Black challenging but the rhythms in which he speaks; machine gun like to an imaginary jazz style.

Gary Beadle ‘Black’ & Jasper Britton ‘White’
in The Sunset Limited
Photo credit: Helen Murray

Have you ever experienced something similar, where you’ve had to understand someone you don’t know, or they have had to understand you?

Fortunately, I’ve only ever found myself in situations when I was in Paris studying the French language. But that’s another story!

The Sunset Limited discusses redemption, faith and free will, how relevant are these topics when you reflect on where we are in our current climate?

I’m an optimist on most days. I’m a great believer in goodness prevailing. History has a way of repeating itself. Good or bad it’s all for a reason. That’s deep I know …

As a two-hander play, what are the challenges, if any, faced when the story is carried by only two members?

A two-hander is all about learning and understanding the other characters dialogue so you can remember your own words…

At this stage in your career you must take on roles with a purpose in mind, what was your reason for taking on this one, what is your intention when it comes to what the audience takes away from seeing it?

Firstly, I just love the challenge of live theatre and of course the preparations that go into it. You’ve got more time to develop a three-dimensional character. Giving a varied performance each show enables the audience to witness a performance solely for their eyes only. That’s what I hope for people to take away with them.

We cannot speak to you and not mention the character that I and I’m sure many, if not most identify you with, the one and only Paul Trueman from EastEnders, but you have played characters in TV, film and have many theatre credits, what has been your experience as a Black creative over the years?

First of all, I just consider myself an artist. Unless autobiographical, I refuse to settle for anything less. I’ve been acting for 45 years now and each job has been a challenge. EastEnders was no different. Learn what you need for the next big challenge that lies ahead.

Have you seen a progression when it comes to getting and sustaining work or have you like so many others found it extremely hard here in the UK?

All actors will tell you its hard. What’s really hard is to continue to work. Yes, I’ve been fortunate I guess, but it’s what you do with those opportunities that matter. Subscribe to painting yourself into a corner because of your cultural background or paint a picture of someone who is more than what one might assume. A challenge indeed…

Your career has been quite diverse, in your earlier days you were involved in music and had a stint in comedy. Would you consider getting involved in either field again?

No, is the short answer.

What’s next for you?

Holiday. Cheap one of course (smiley face emoji).


The Sunset Limited is currently running at The Boulevard Theatre until 29th February 2020. Find out more and book your tickets here.