by Carl Caulfield.
Waterloo East Theatre Brad Street SE1 To 19 November 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & Sun 4pm.
Runs 1hr No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7928 0060.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 6 November.
Intriguing look behind the many faces and voices.
New, bijou venue Waterloo East Theatre (on the corner Cornwall Road and Brad Street) currently houses a revival of Australian-based Carl Caulfield’s one-man examination of Goon, film actor and comedian Peter Sellers, who died in 1980.
On a hospital bed, at death’s door, David Boyle’s Sellers sort-of looks like the real thing. But as he moves around in a postlude to life, it’s apparent that the real thing didn’t always look like the real thing. And that the real thing was elusive even to himself.
Born into a showbiz family, young Sellers had early tussles with his vaudevillian mother, who wanted him to follow in the parental footlights. She was the dominant one – father’s job was projecting slides of clothing onto her apparently naked body; very daring for its time as Sellers says.
But he preferred radio and letting his imagination riot through sounds. And so to the multiple Goons voices, matching the crazy verbal logic and surreal fluidity of situations which Sellers, Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. injected into radio comedy through The Goon Show, again daringly for its time.
Film stardom followed; Caulfield’s Sellers keeps validating himself to mother by reeling-off movie stars and directors he’s worked with. The Pink Panther’s clumsy Inspector Clouseau naturally features alongside others while post-mortem, Sellers searches for himself. Title and production publicity image recall Sellers’ last significant film Being There, where, typically, his character is mistaken for someone several social notches up.
By Caulfield’s conclusion the man whose multiple identities apparently concealed no very certain identity is sitting in the audience watching an empty stage, before Glen Miller’s ‘In the Mood’ (Sellers’ funeral music) plays us out.
It’s this particularity that gives interest to familiar ideas of the actor without a sense of identity, and the tortured comic – though the one thing a one-man show can’t fully show is the tortured relationships with others, on set and off.
Sellers didn’t like the theatre, where he could see the audience. Fortunately, his re-creator David Boyle has no such inhibitions and flings himself into this afterlife with verve and protean skill.
Peter Sellers: David Boyle.
Director: Simon Green.
Lighting: Allan Ramsay.