Michael has returned to London’s West End after a long break. He left the run of The Woman in White in 2004 suffering from exhaustion. After tests he found that he’d developed the debilitating illness myalgic encephalopathy, or ME.
‘What I thought had been flu turned into a physical meltdown. I went for all sorts of brain and body scans until ME was finally diagnosed. I was told by the doctors that it was all down to the Count Fosco suit. It had made me sweat so much that I had become dangerously dehydrated.
‘I’d been losing too many nutrients from my body, and the water I’d been swigging wasn’t enough to replace them. With no nutrients to sustain me, I had become vulnerable to a virus.
‘My immune system had broken down and this led to ME. Ironically, I’d helped design that rubber costume, and it had been like stepping into a sauna for three hours every night. I look back on it now and realise that creating that suit was one of the worst ideas I ever had.’
Photo: Michael Crawford in his Count Fosco rubber suit in The Woman In White
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.