British actor Lenny Henry suffered a "meltdown" during rehearsals for a new British production of Fences as he struggled to learn his lines for the show.

The comedian-turned-stage star had just four weeks to memorise the script for an adaptation of August Wilson's play, in which he portrays Troy Maxson, a role previously tackled on Broadway by Denzel Washington and James Earl Jones.

Henry admits he struggled to cope with the complicated lines and lack of rehearsal time, and feared he would not be ready for opening night.

He tells the London Evening Standard, "(I had) a bit of a meltdown... I didn't think I was going to learn it. We had four weeks. Laurence Olivier had nine weeks for Othello, and there's more lines than that in Fences. I was daunted. I got very grave. Because I work hard, I take it all extremely seriously. I didn't think I could do it, that I needed at least another two weeks... There are lots of double, triple, quadruple negatives in it - 'There ain't not never been no time called too early' - and lots of repetition, so it's hard to learn."

The play is currently touring the U.K. before it opens in London's West End in June (13).