Masterclass

15 Jan

It’s tempting to call this a masterclass in comic acting, and not just because as a writer about theatre my natural default position is banality posturing as wit. Created by Gareth Davies and Charlie Garber, Masterclass is very funny and brilliantly acted.

Davies and Garber give beautifully measured performances. Both their physical and vocal work has a wonderful texture. They know when to go exuberantly large, and they know when to defer to a casual everydudeness. (OK, that’s probably not a word. Or at least not til now.)

Davies plays a great actor. Garber plays one of his creations. Garber attempts to convince Davies to return to the stage. However, the actor feels the risk to a potential audience is just too high – because of the enormous power of his performances.

Photo by Marnya Rothe

Photo by Marnya Rothe

Some people might call it undergraduate humour. It delights in silliness. It takes aim at tropes that the more world weary amongst us have long recognized and now thoughtlessly accept.

The play is an exploration of our obsession with the great actor. It’s a disturbing element of our theatre culture, and here it’s playfully parodied.  (An analogy of my own perverse invention: the obsession with acting in the drama theatre is like an obsession with anesthetic in the surgical theatre. Of course you have to get it right, but it’s hardly the point of the process. )

Masterclass also raises interesting philosophical questions about the concept of character. Clearly, characters are not real people and the play has a lot of self aware fun with this idea. Characters lack autonomy. That’s the worm in the heart of our grand tradition of representational theatre: our ‘great’ theatre that purports to tell us the way things actually are. Of course, it doesn’t, and can’t; not if it struggles to present the dynamic of choice. Though some might say my argument is merely undergraduate.

Veronica Kaye

 

Masterclass by Gareth Davies and Charlie Garber

presented by Red Line Productions

Old Fitzroy Theatre  til 31st Jan

http://www.oldfitztheatre.com/tickets-masterclass

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