“An Actor Prepares.” For Crispin Cox, that preparation began way before the traditional “half” was called. The true extent of the machinations which bring him in front of the dressing room mirror tonight are laid bare in 50 minutes of rather delightful scheming.
Punctuated by phone calls from his agent, the show’s designer, and original star whom Cox can hardly bear to listen to, a tale unravels against a background of ‘track 12 – finale’ in which liaisons are said to bruise. The face is prepared, masks are tested, pearls are draped, and secrets ooze from every pore.
Some of the jokes may be ancient, one or two in dubious taste, but Michael Conley knows how to both write and time them for release at maximum force. The internal logic of his character is never in doubt, each new revelation making absolute sense. The incredibly tricky balancing act between presenting us with background while driving the narrative forward is never in danger of toppling over – a considerable achievement as any monologue writer will attest.
There’s probably a full-length stage show to be had (a sort of anti- “Noises Off”), as we are unable to meet the brilliant Stage Manager Kelly (voice of Aisling Tara), Alfred-Taylor Gaunt (voice of “You Suck Guy”) or indeed the man Cox is replacing – Freedman (Luke Bateman). Nor is Cox’s agent given a voice, though that pivotal role is nicely realised by the man himself in solo conversations.
Luke Rayner’s careful camera angle puts us at the dressing room table, with space to add phone use as required – nicely delivered by sound person Richard Rayner.
The only issue is with a super-imposed photograph of Glenn Close, behind which the actor often disappears disconcertingly. A simple photocopy stuck to a wall would have been both apt and less distracting.
This will appeal particularly to anyone who wonders how actors really get to where they are. Answer here: by taking a bitter and ruthless approach laden with enough sugar to disguise what this thespian manic wishes us to swallow. Characterful, amusing and slightly alarming by turn, with an ending you probably won’t see coming... nor did his victims. A fun backstage diversion.
the world premiere of this one-act, one-man play streamed on 29th July 2021 at 8pm.
Then available on demand until 29th August 2021 at crispincox.com.
Photo credit: Jane Hobson, used by kind permission.