Moira+I went to the Tobacco Theatre last night (to be honest, it was M’s idea and I wasn’t all that keen… how wrong I was!). The play, “My Perfect Mind” (performed+written by Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter, and directed+written by Kathryn Hunter), is inspired by the time when the acclaimed classical actor Edward Petherbridge (who also played Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1980’s BBC series) went to New Zealand in 2007 to rehearse the part of King Lear. After two days in rehearsal, he suffered a major stroke – which left him barely able to move. As he struggled to recover he made a discovery: the entire role of Lear still existed word for word in his mind.The result is a bizarre mix - part Shakespeare recital, part theatrical in-joke and part meditation on the frailties of old age and the extraordinary abilities of mind and body to renew themselves… and it’s all played out on an exaggeratedly tilted stage (which cleverly highlights a world that’s off-kilter… as well as providing moments of great hilarity). The blurb on the Tobacco Factory Theatre’s website describes it as ”a comic tale of a man not doing King Lear”… and it absolutely is. It’s hugely entertaining and very funny, but it’s also a moving exploration of life (especially for those of us who’re entering old age!) and the human spirit. Both actors are quite brilliant – Petherbridge in that wonderful way experienced actors have of exuding confidence and frailty at the same time and Hunter with his multitude of “support” characters.
A brilliant evening – theatre and live performance at its very best.
(If you live in the Bristol area, the play runs until Saturday 4 October (and, I think, tickets are still available) and I would highly recommend that you see it.
PS: Petherbridge is 78 years old (and still looks very spritely) and I particularly enjoyed the fact that he had to crawl (literally) under the tilted stage on two occasions (in full view of the audience) and climb up on to the stage through an access hatch!