Devised by: Dickie Beau
Director: Jan-Willem Van Den Bosch
Reviewer: Kris Hallett
Latitude Arts Programmer Tania Harrison has nailed her booking this year. Hot Brown Honey blew the cobwebs of a long drive away on Thursday night and my colleague awarded the full five stars to Voices of the Amazon. Well here is another one from voice sync artist extraordinaire Dickie Beau in the kind of work that will still be coming up on ‘best of’ lists in a decade. It’s magical.
All actors reach a point in their lives when they realise whether the Dane will occur in their career or not. For some, the romantic actors, the star, the next big thing it’s a rite of passage. For others, they will be nothing more than Marcello spotting a ghost on the barricade at the start of the work. When Beau realised his career was more destined for spear carrier than the melancholic prince, he decided to make a show about the ghosts of Hamlet’s past.
For every actor who ever steps into the breeches has to face the memories of those who’ve come before. Burbage, Kean, Gielgud, Olivier, O’Toole, Burton, Warner, Rees, Branagh, Whishaw and Essiedu – the list keeps growing and the memories swirl around each one.
It whittles down these memories touching on some iconic moments; Jonathan Pryce’s terrifying possession when his father’s ghost overtook him and whom director Peter Hall criticised for sounding like he was speaking the verse as though he was newly creating it. As Richard Eyre, the director of that show dryly remarked, isn’t that what acting should be? We hear about Ian McKellan’s perceived failure in the role, Beau pushing out his chin and nailing the facial tics that you hadn’t realised this acting knight had but now will never not be noticed again.
Finally coming into focus is the account of Ian Charleston. Taking over after the infamous Daniel Day Lewis walk out, Charleston was already seriously ill with AIDS. Both the actor and Eyre, his director, knew it but went ahead regardless. What followed was one of the least commented on great acting performances of the 20th Century. For those who saw it, there was discussion of the actor’s great beauty stripped away into decay, of an actor facing his own mortality through the sweet Prince’s philosophy. Each actor has by definition to internalise the role, bring the role to them and be brave enough to reveal a little of themselves. It’s why McKellan admits his didn’t work, it was surface acting, an actor afraid to reveal and only to rely on technique. Charleston gave every last drop to the role, he passed away mere weeks after he closed the show. The theatre would never get to see his Lear.
It’s clear from the talking heads, each given pitch-perfect syncs by the extraordinary Beau that the theatrical family closed in on one of their own and willed him for one last success. Technical problems besieged the work on Saturday evening as picture and sound went out of sync but it somehow added to the work’s power, as an audience willed actor and show to succeed. It’s this contract between performer and audience that makes great theatre so special. And the great works create additional surprising magic. Here, the wind whirling around and causing the tent to shake mixed with back lighting caused spectral shadows to cross the back curtain. One could detect the spirits of the greats watching and nodding their approval
Reviewed on 15 July 2017 | Image: Contributed
Latitude Festival runs from 13 – 16 July 2017 at Henham Park, Suffolk