ORBITS, 3Star***, London, To March 11

by Wally Sewell.
3Stars ***

The Drayton ARMS Theatre, 151 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 0LJ to 11 March 2017.
Tues – Sat 8pm.
Runs 1hr 45mins One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7835 2301.
Review: William Russell 23 February

Giants and monsters converse
In 1947 Joseph Losey directed a version of Bertolt Brecht’s Galileo
starring Charles Laughton in Hollywood, which later went to Broadway. Sewell’s play is about the confrontations between star and writer, both men with monster appetites and problems with the society in which they lived.

Brecht was Communist, Laughton a closet gay. Sewell mixes confrontations between the two men with scenes from the play as Galileo also faced – like Brecht – cross examination by a hostile Inquisitor. Brecht, later in the year, ended up before the House Un-American Activities Committee, left America and continued his career in East Germany as leader of the Berliner Ensemble.

The parallels between the fate of Galileo and Brecht work well but good though he is Edmund Dehn never conjures up the ghost of Laughton which somehow unbalances the whole affair. As Brecht Peter Saracen has the easier task as we have no mental image of him. One is not quite getting the battle between opponents of equal power but different outlooks.

The co-operation between the two men appears to have been fraught although Losey must also have played a part in what went on and Brecht was gone before it opened in New York. However, how men face up to the pressures of inquisition into their beliefs and actions, whether they are brave or cowards, principled or betrayers of what they stood for as well as the impact it has on their private lives makes for an intriguing and provocative play.

Brecht: Peter Saracen.
Laughton: Edmund Dehn.

Director: Anthony Shrubsall.
Lighting: Phil Emerson.

2017-02-24 12:39:43

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