Forbes Masson (born 17 August 1963 in Falkirk) is a Scottish actor and writer. He is an Artistic Associate with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre of Scotland. He is best known for his classical theatre roles and comedy partnership with Alan Cumming. Masson and Cumming wrote The High Life, a Scottish situation comedy in which they play the lead characters, Steve McCracken and Sebastian Flight. Characters McCraken and Flight were heavily based on Victor and Barry, famous Scottish comedy alter-egos of Masson and Cumming.
Masson completed a three-year drama course at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and has a BA in Dramatic Studies. Masson met Cumming during this time, and the pair performed some cabaret work together in order to earn equity cards. He lives in North London with his wife, Melanie Masson, who was a finalist on ITV’s The X Factor in 2012. They have two children, Rua (daughter) and Ramsay (son).
Masson's first television appearances were in the late 1980s, including an episode of Taggart. He played Stan Laurel in the episode "Meltdown" of the sitcom Red Dwarf, Eck in the 1992 comedy series My Dead Dad, Rodney Morris in EastEnders (2000), Tam Flood in Hamish Macbeth (1996) as well as various roles in Is It Bill Bailey? (1998), working alongside Simon Pegg. He also played rock-band manager Art Stilton in Channel 4's cult comedy The Young Person's Guide To Becoming a Rock Star (1998), Cronie McKay in No Holds Bard (2009), and most recently Governor Grantham in Dead Boss (series 1, episode 5, 2012).
Other theatre includes:
The Breathing House (Gilbert), Art (Yvan), Stiff! (George Mathieson), Much Ado About Nothing (Benedick): Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
Endgame (Clov), The Trick is to Keep Breathing (Dr Green), Dumbstruck (Herman Katz), The Real Wurld (Claude), Cinzano (Pasha): Tron Theatre Glasgow
Laurel and Hardy (Stan Laurel): Assembly Edinburgh/Wellington Festival NZ
The Life of Stuff (Fraser): Donmar Warehouse, London
Loose Ends (Callum), Wormwood (Artemis): Traverse Theatre Edinburgh
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Mr Tumnus) at Threesixty Theatre in Kensington Gardens, directed by Rupert Goold and Michael Fentiman, music by Adam Cork.
Masson has written and composed a series of critically acclaimed Scottish musicals; Stiff!, Mince and Pants. He directed the semi-autobiographical Mince with The Dundee Rep Theatre Ensemble, and it was nominated for best musical in The Barclays TMA Awards in 2001.
At the Tron Theatre, Glasgow from 2001–2005 his alternative Christmas Pantomimes including Aladdie and Weans in the Wood were hugely successful. It was at the Tron Theatre that he first worked with Michael Boyd. Masson wrote segments for Michael Boyd’s Pilate Project at The Other Place.
He has also worked with Gordon Dougall's Sounds of Progress music theatre company (renamed Limelight in 2010), promoting disability inclusion in the Arts. Dougall was the musical director for the Forbes Masson shows Crackers, Stiff! and Mince.
Masson is an Artistic Associate with the RSC and was in The Royal Shakespeare Company acting ensemble from 2003 to 2011. His roles included Horatio to Toby Stephens' Hamlet in 2004, and Feste in Twelfth Night in 2005. Both productions were directed by RSC Artistic Director Michael Boyd. He also played Porter in Dominic Cooke's Macbeth and Dromio of Ephesus in Nancy Meckler's Comedy of Errors. He played Judas in Pilate Project. He performed in Boyd's critically acclaimed Histories cycle from 2006–2008 in Stratford-Upon-Avon and The Roundhouse, Camden. His roles in the cycle included Bagot in Richard II, Rumour in Henry IV, Part Two, Chorus in Henry V and King Edward IV in Henry VI and Richard III. In 2009 he played Samson in Boyd's production of The Grain Store. He played Romeo opposite Kathryn Hunter's Juliet in Ben Power's adaptation of Romeo and Juliet called "Tender Thing". He played Merlin in Greg Doran's production of Mike Poulton's Morte d'Arthur. He played Gena in Ahasverus as directed by Michael Fentiman, at the Hampstead Theatre. Most recently he appeared as Jacques in Boyd's As You Like It, and Friar Lawrence in Rupert Goold's production of Romeo and Juliet. Both plays came to the Roundhouse in Camden in late 2010. They played Park Avenue Armory in New York in summer 2011.
Partnership with Alan Cumming
He co-wrote and performed with Alan Cumming in the situation comedy, The High Life. Masson and Cumming had met at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 1982 where they formed a cult Kelvinside musical double act "Victor and Barry", which they performed on the alternative comedy circuit. They were nominated for a Perrier Award in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1988, played the Donmar Warehouse and toured Australia in 1989, playing the Sydney Opera House. The characters were killed off onstage at the London Palladium in the early 1990s.
Masson is also an Artistic Associate of The National Theatre of Scotland.
He is married to singer and 2012 X Factor contestant Melanie Masson. They have two children and live in North London.
Forbes Masson is followed at twitter @forbesmasson.
- The soundtrack to the RSC's 2005 production of Twelfth Night with Sianed Jones
- Forbes Masson recorded a selection of songs he sang in the RSC, on album John Woolf and Friends.
- Forbes Masson reads a selection of Robert Burns poetry
- Wilson, S. (2 May 2001). "Forbes Masson: Barking mad, but brilliant". The Independent. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "Mr Flibble Talks To... Forbes Masson | Features | Red Dwarf". reddwarf.co.uk. 5 March 2004. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "BBC One - No Holds Bard". bbc.co.uk. 2009.
- "BBC Three - Dead Boss, Series 1, Episode 5". bbc.co.uk. 2012.
- Crackers website
- "Profile on: Forbes Masson". scottisharts.org.uk. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "The RSC Prepares For All Eight History Play Performances". life.com. 27 February 2008. Retrieved 29 October 2010.
- "Twelfth Night" at sianed.co.uk.
- "Music for the RSC - John Woolf & Friends (CD, 2011)" at www.rsc.org.uk.
- "The Great Poets – Robert Burns (selections)" at naxosaudiobooks.com.
- Forbes as Jaques in As You Like It RSC trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6iAozWpraJ4
- Victor and Barry sing their eighties hit, "Kelvinside Men": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-t04qzYLzoc
- The High Life opening titles: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tSDb-t3cFU
- Guardian review of Twelfth Night : http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2005/dec/14/theatre1
- Daily Telegraph review of As You Like It : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-reviews/8267640/As-You-Like-It-RSC-Roundhouse-review.html
- Guardian review of Mince: http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/2001/may/08/theatre.artsfeatures
- Image of Forbes as Feste in Twelfth Night : http://www.corbisimages.com/stock-photo/rights-managed/42-15647501/forbes-masson-in-twelfth-night
- Review of Audio Book reading The Last King of Scotland : http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/jul/27/audiobooks