by Steven Berkoff.

Charing Cross Theatre The Arches Villiers Street WC2N 6NG To 23 June 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30 pm Mat Sat 3.30 pm.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.

TICKETS: 0844 4930 5868.
Review: William Russell 25 May.

More than just cattle.
This is a witty, perceptive look at film actors who may only have a line, but who enhance the scenes in which they appear. They are actors, not extras, strange beings who could just as easily have been major players but fate has decreed otherwise.

They are in thrall to the director, who plays God with their lives, deciding what they will do and when. Alfred Hitchcock said actors should be treated like cattle. The director here is no different. Steven Berkoff, who has made some 50 films as actor or director, has set his play in the lounge of a hotel somewhere outside town. It is winter.

The six actors, three men, three women, have finished a scene and are waiting to see if they will be called back to complete it after the star, who has problems it seems, has done her close-ups. They are bored, worried about what will happen – will they be needed, will they be sent home, will they have to do some work later in front of a blue screen? – sending for endless supplies of coffee and cake to pass the time.

They are people without substance, who only come to life when they are shadows on the screen recorded by the camera. They are actors but actors without the world of the theatre. They squabble, discuss the director, slag-off the star, reveal individual insecurities and ambitions.

It is very wordy, very funny and very sad as their lives seem to have no existence other than in the films they appear in. They know the star often does not need them, will play totally alone to the camera rather than with the people in the scene, but they know the director needs them – sometimes. It is short, cruel, taking one into a world of shadows, and impeccably performed by the cast, each of whom is given his or her tirade against the injustice of it all.

Berkoff after all is not only a director, but an actor, so this is about as true as you get about people who fake it for a living.

Eve: Andree Bernard.
Debra: Sarah Chamberlain.
Francis: Ruth Everett.
The Director: Jonathan Sidgwick.
Brian: Neil Stuke.
Alan: Paul Trussell.
Charles: Philip Voss.

Director: Steven Berkoff.
Designer: Nigel Hook.
Lighting: Mike Robertson.
Assistant Director: Matt Cullum.

2012-05-31 01:05:14

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