First Night: Stewart pulls off a tricky weighty role, but anorexic script fails to satisfy
A Life in the Theatre Apollo Theatre, London
Thursday 03 February 2005
Patrick Stewart pulled off this with huge aplomb recently in a West End production of Ibsen's The Master Builder, a play almost cruelly designed to get the best notices for the aspiring young girl who enters the life of the eponymous architect. The actress concerned won a "Most Promising Newcomer" award and it was great to seen Stewart cheering her on from the stalls at the ceremony.
In a similar situation Patrick Stewart is wonderful now in Lindsay Posner's highly adroit production of David Mamet's A Life in the Theatre. He plays Robert, an elderly actor who is teamed onstage and off with Joshua Jackson's John.
Robert is a difficult role. You have to communicate technical excellence at the same time as sending out the feeling that excellence in acting has ceased to be enough for Robert. He has to suggest that the elderly actor is a lonely individual. The one-upmanship in an early scene is actually a way of saying, "I don't have anyone to go out to dinner with tonight. It would be in your interest and in mine, if we could somehow get it together, to go out with one another".
Stewart's performance is so skilled that it kept reminding me of something that Barbra Streisand once said. In 1963 she was the guest star on a Judy Garland special and she could not work out why Judy's hand was shaking like a leaf. Of course, once she got to the age that Garland was at the time, Streisand had no difficulty in understanding the nerves. Patrick Stewart puts one in touch with that kind of problem.
Unfortunately, neither the excellence of the directing, nor the slow- burn drollness of Joshua Jackson's performance can disguise the anorexic dramaturgy that is on offer here. You leave the theatre thinking: where's the show? And the tickets are too expensive to make you feel that this is a some kind of luvvie joke.
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...