Six Actors In Search Of A Director Review

An actor’s lot is not a happy one.

At least that’s the premise of Steven Berkoff’s new play written and directed by the Hollywood actor.

To an empty stage containing nothing but empty leather sofas, arm chairs and some refreshments, we hear a frustrated director repeatedly yelling out the same on set directions to a cast it’s fair to assume is more than a little confused.

After hollering cut for roughly the tenth time, though it certainly felt longer, the director finally calls for a break and the supporting cast filter into their green room area for some lukewarm coffee and biscuits.

The ensemble proceed to laugh off the overzealous attentions of their director, labelling his methodology as visionary instead of pedantic.

Which I trust is how Soundbite Culture writers think about my editing of their words, though I wouldn’t lose any sleep if that wasn’t the case.

Still, it’s safe to say I understand a little of the creative control freak that asserts itself from within.

What follows is a theatrical exploration of the trials and tribulations of life as a film actor, which is never quite as rosy as people might think from the outside looking in.

Except for the leading lights of course.

Six Actors In Search Of A Director is the new play written and directed by Steven Berkoff, he of villainous cinematic fame most notably Beverly Hills Cop and, of late, The Tourist.

In fact, I bumped into the cultured actor at a Covent Garden PR function for the home entertainment release of his latest film, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, so was genuinely interested in what Berkoff had to say with this.

After all, who knows the on set life of a supporting film actor better than someone who’s lived this life?

What follows was entirely expected; a light hearted play that pokes fun at the personality traits and very often insecurities inherent in most performers.

So we have the relatively young ingénue played by Sarah Chamberlain, who describes her life as effectively meaningless without having a director to tell her what to do.

Which is a pretty normal state of affairs for many actors once institutionalised into the industry.

There’s the deft casting of Neil Stuke as the actor who thinks he’s above everyone else in the supporting cast, which is probably comparatively true.

Andree Bernard plays a slightly over the hill actress who used to get by on her beauty, but whose opportunities are now beginning to fade with her looks, as well as a few more generic character stereotypes thrown in for good measure.

Having known a few actors in my time, I enjoyed the gentle insight of Six Actors In Search Of A Director having long since appreciated a few universal truths that hold true for most performers.

Everything is so well rehearsed and polished though, with some totally seamless dialogue from the actors in question, that you never really believe or buy into the world Berkoff has created as reality.

Because it’s not.

Rather, it’s a hyper-reality of a fantasy world our media has glamorised out of all recognition from the stark truths and insecurity that any jobbing actor will be able to identify with.

Or anyone who’s striving to be successful in any creative field for that.

It’s only the minority who have such a great life from these careers, with the amount of hard work and sacrifice that goes into making this thing your life anything but glamorous.

So an actor’s lot is not always a happy one.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2012