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Wednesday 15 August 2018

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BERKOFF & CO

THE ACTOR'S LAMENT

Oh dear. How do we tackle this one without falling into a trap? See, The Actor's Lament does exactly what it says on the poster. Actor, playwright and director Steven Berkoff (below) and pals chat aimlessly for an hour, 'smoking' imaginary cigarettes and 'quaffing' make-believe booze, all the while tearing apart the coldest profession in the book. Their profession. But they're playing characters…or are they?

In spectacular Berkoff fashion, the British stage veteran (77) devotes the opening segment to 'the critics', those failed something-or-others who will never truly understand what it takes to be a master of theatre. Poor us. It's like the age-old Mrs Brown's Boys debate, only... fancier.

The Actor's Lament, then, is a grumpy-old-man of a play. Is there an actual plot? Nope. Are we going somewhere with this? Not tonight. So, it's more of a 'talk', then? Ah, stop. This is drama. Berkoff and co-star Andree Bernard get their boogie on.

There's a throne and everything in the middle of the stage. Jay Benedict (the 'director' in the gang…keep up) provides the cigarettes. It's a bizarre little piece, and yet, strangely alluring, too.

We learn the differences between film and stage acting (one is easier than the other). We discover the heartache that comes with being an understudy.

Basically, it's a play about acting, performed by actors playing actors (and one director). Based on a tonne of experience, no doubt, but Berkoff isn't going to drop any names. Instead, he and his team entertain themselves and their audience with animated monologues, grouchy career lessons and whimsical recollections. Difficult, yes, but then, so is acting.

Running until Saturday

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