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A recovering actor in Devon reviews a long dull journey through an actor's life, loss and love | Scene

A recovering actor in Devon reviews a long dull journey through an actor's life, loss and love |  Scene


A.Ichard Nelson's monologue, written for Paul Jesson, is a meditation on life and death, theater and what it means to be an actor. Departing from Waterloo station, he takes us on a romantic train journey through the West Country to visit an old friend for the weekend, but also through the memories of his life.

Alone on stage, the actor (Jesson) shares his past with us, as if we were his old friends. He talks about his career, his illness, growing older, his partner Michael, a fellow comedian who recently passed away, and the experience of living with overwhelming grief. The piece is filled with reflections and feels like a gentle stream of consciousness. But, although Nelson's writings include countless references to theater, Shakespeare, and the stage, his play is more like a live reading of a novel.

Directed by Clarissa Brown, the play exudes a stunning sense of stagnation. The scenes flow into each other, without any sense of change. Even after a little over an hour, Jessons' contemplations seem inflated beyond their means. Rob Howell's set design is a collection of curtains draped over chairs that seem to have no connection with Nelson's words.

Most of the piece feels like an elegiac conversation. The actor is satisfied with his life, but uncertain about his future. Questions about the purpose of art remain unanswered. Stories from years gone by are inserted into the storyline, for no solid reason. Although Jesson is a calming and tender presence on stage, the evening borders on indulgent. Yet sometimes, in the sea of ​​floating ideas, Nelson's play reveals a painful brilliance.

When the actor talks about his years with Michael, his absence is glaring. In each story he tells, we feel his character brimming with life. Without him, the actor is now almost invisible. At its best, Nelson's play deals with loss and how we can never truly understand his feeling. There is only a long way to go before reaching its hot core.




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