An amateur actor almost took the phrase “break a leg” literally, when he sprained his ankle moments before a show, forcing the stage manager to take his place.

Genevieve Trickett learned lines in an hour and stood in for the cast member, who fell down steps outside St Luke’s in Kew and sprained his ankle.

Scott Tilley, 27, was taken away in an ambulance after he fell outside during the Q2 Players’ last night of the performance of the Perfekt Crime on Saturday, November 23.

The play had seen a successful three-night run and was seen by the mayor of Richmond, Councillor Meena Bond.

Director Cat Lamin, 30, said: “The cast quickly put Genni through her paces so she could learn the complicated stage directions in order to play the part of Sergeant Plod.

“With just minutes to spare, the cast dashed off to get their costumes on and the audience filtered into the hall.

“Genni astounded us all by having memorised nearly the entire script in the space of an hour, as well as most of the stage directions.

“Any slip ups were ably covered up the cast so that the evening performance went off without a hitch.”