Steven Berkoff – The Actor’s Lament – Gaiety Theatre – September 1st – 6th.
Two actors drift onto a barren stage, with a single throne like chair placed dead centre. They are dressed in simple attire, dark from head to toe, with the walls and floor of the stage black. A third actor joins them shortly after. We are never introduced to the characters and know little of their history. One is a playwright, another an established actor that has tried his hand at writing and the final one a middle-aged woman struggling to get the parts she deserves, despite her talent.
The Actor’s Lament is a play about the theatre, an inward looking affair that dismantles the world of the stage and pulls apart the actions and perspectives of the various players in producing a work of theatre. The role of the actor, the writer, the producer, the director, the critic and even the audience are discussed and critiqued in some fashion with a humorous and playful eye. Each character takes a turn to go to the front of the stage and talk directly to the audience, while the others cavort behind them. They interact and argue over the pros and cons of the theatratical roles, spelling out the glamour and the lack of it. The writer talks of how their work will live on after the actors are long dead, and the actors say the writer is nothing without them to give life to their words.
The play also deals with the fleeting nature of fame, while admitting it is the goal of most of the protagonists. The soap opera star can come to the stage and get top billing despite their lack of any real talent. The older actor has to move from being the leading man or woman, to those decorating the back of the stage or even under studies.
Steven Berkoff still has amazing stage presence, and even at the tender age of 77 he can fill the auditorium with his voice. The two that join him on stage are no less impressive, with Andrée Bernard particularly catching the eye, as she glides across stage, holding the eye of the audience with a knowing grin on her face.
At just over an hour, this is a short production but as there is no cohesive storyline other than a discussion on the different aspects of the stage, it would be difficult to keep the performance going longer. It is primarily about the three impressive performers showing their ability. It is for fans of Berkoff or for those that have ever worked in the theatre. It is nicely understated and takes a whimsical look at life on the stage.
Cast – Steven Berkoff, Jay Benedict, Andrée Bernard
Written and Directed by Steven Berkoff.
Steven Berkoff – The Actor’s Lament – 1 September 2014 – 6 September 2014