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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 16:21 GMT
Hurricane breezes onto West End
Higgins attracted an army of fans in his heyday
Higgins attracted an army of fans in his heyday
Dubbed the Hurricane for his flamboyant style of play, Alex Higgins took the game of snooker to a new dimension.

Now the colourful antics of the Belfast-born legend are being depicted in a one-man show at London's West End.

Aptly titled Hurricane, it charts the highs and lows of the twice World Snooker champion.

Originally produced in Belfast, the play whipped up a storm at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival with rave reviews from the critics.

Sold-out audiences rose nightly to cheer and applaud writer Richard Dormer who also plays the part of Alex Higgins, now 53.

It was a similar story at the West End's Soho Theatre where the play opened this week.

Mr Dormer believes it is Higgins' charisma which appeals to everyone.

Dormer bears a resemblence to Higgins on stage
Dormer bears a resemblence to Higgins on stage
"He is everyman, he is a working class boy who did good. Yes, he's had his falls but he's human and that's what people can relate to," said Mr Dormer.

Higgins was 22 when he won snooker's world championship at his first attempt in 1972, and repeated the feat in 1982.

He was known as a flair player and attracted an army of fans.

But he led a exuberant life away from the sport and drank heavily throughout his tempestuous career.

He was forced to quit snooker after developing cancer and underwent more than 40 doses of radiotherapy and an operation to remove a cancerous lymph node in his neck.

He announced in 1999 that he was going to sue the tobacco industry, claiming he had no idea of the dangers of smoking.

Higgins has reportedly endorsed the stage production saying that it accurately conveys his life.

Dormer said people had commented on his uncanny resemblance to the snooker champion on stage.

"People have said there are flashes of him (Alex) there. Mostly it's just me as an actor telling a story," he said.

"But there are bits, certainly bits that people remember from television."

Dormer believes that with great highs in a person's life also come great lows.

The snooker champion has not been well in recent years
The snooker champion has not been well in recent years
"It's good that he (Alex) is getting all this good publicity again.

"I think people are remembering the good things rather than dwelling on the bad."

Dormer has a host of accolades to his credit.

He was winner of the BBC Stewart Parker Award for new writing for Hurricane and was also nominated Best Actor in the Theatre Manager Association Awards, 2003.

His numerous theatre roles include the title role of Billy Budd at the Crucible and Beautiful Thing at the West End.

Higgins and top snooker player Jimmy White were due to attend the play - which The Independent last year named as one of the five top plays in the country - on Tuesday night.

The production was also the Critics Choice in The Times which described it as a "physically devastating portrait of self destruction".

After the Soho season which runs until 7 February, Hurricane goes on stage in Colchester, Nottingham, Leeds, Salford and Warwick before playing at Belfast's Waterfront Hall on 8-12 March and then heading to Dublin.

Hurricane in hot water
27 Apr 03  |  Snooker
1982: Higgins' emotional win
18 Apr 03  |  Snooker
Snooker star to sue tobacco firms
26 Jul 99  |  UK News


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