Saturday, December 11, 2010

A virtuoso performance

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.

4 comments:

Emily said...

Oh, the envy! I was absolutely smitten by Neil Armfield as a director when I was in Sydney - at the Belvoir, but also the opera. And Geoffrey Rush too!
Wow.

1funkyknitwit said...

I would agree about being blase if you were to be in New York and London. Perhaps though you might be so blase you may not go as it's always available, just like your never a tourist in your own city :)

Geoffrey Rush is a brilliant actor and yes, you are blessed to pop down the road.

Barbara said...

No wonder the play is booked out! Thank you for a gripping description Lyn. And thank you too for all your posts over the year -- especially the month that you posted every day. Reading your post is like enjoying a good glass of wine, or looking at a sunset, or smelling a gardenia - something that gives happiness, contentment, empathy, stimulation and usually a smile.

Brenda said...

I agree with Barbara. BTW. Re your use of the word penultimate. The first time I ever saw that word was in one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books. She used it often actually. But the first time I had no idea what it meant and had to look it up. Now whenever I see it, I am reminded again oaf Elizabeth. -