One of the few things I'm getting better at as I get older is counting my blessings. But then, I have a lot of blessings to count. One of the most recent was going to see Geoffrey Rush in Diary of a Madman at the Belvoir Theatre.
Twenty-one years ago a relatively unknown actor, Geoffrey Rush, teamed up with the then newish resident director of the Belvoir Theatre, Neil Armfield, to adapt a script from Nikolai Gogol's 1834 short story, Diary of a Madman, and then produce it on stage. Now, as Armfield's swan-song as Belvoir director, he and Rush have reprieved the original production of Diary of a Madman.
It's a two-handed play accompanied by two musicians. It's the story of minor bureaucrat Poprishchin, who, despite his poverty, clings desperately to his status as a gentleman. Over the course of the play his minor delusions of grandeur overtake him until he imagines he is the King of Spain and ends up in an asylum. It sounds like a grim evening, and the ending is undoubtedly distressing, but the production is an opportunity to display Rush's inimitable physical and emotional clowning, and it moves you to both hilarity as well as tears. I had actually seen the production all those years ago, so it was a great privilege to see it again. I remember thinking it was wonderful then, but I now know it was an undoubtedly brilliant virtuoso theatrical experience.
I guess if you live in New York or London you become blase about seeing renowned actors in theatrical productions. But Sydney sometimes seems to be at the end of the world and to to be able to go just around the corner to my local theatre and see an actor of Geoffrey Rush's calibre was indeed a blessing.