All artists need to be brave risk takers and Andrew Henry is no exception. His perfect creation of Jimmy Porter in Look Back in Anger not so longer ago at The Old Fitz was the drawcard which summoned me to the theatre last Tuesday as I needed to see more work from this fine theatre maker.
I had a vague notion of what this devised piece might be about however Mr Henry and his associates served up a theatrical jewel way beyond my expectation. I had perhaps frivolously described earlier to my companion that it was “therapy with songs” – an actor’s journey through the trials and tribulations of the business assisted by the music and poetry that got him through the night. The show is SO much more than this and never, as one might presume, enters into the realm of self indulgence.
Andrew Henry doesn’t shy away from the origins of this piece as he simply and succinctly explains all to us in a letter – instead of the usual program. His understated eloquence in this humble form of correspondence is matched and expanded on during the 50-minute “show”. Or is it a show?
A motley crew of singers and musicians are randomly draped on boxes and a severed Chesterfield couch as director/designer Alex Berlage’s stunningly sumptuous lighting picks out what appears to be the detritus from any closing night bump out party. A beautifully rendered opening set of songs by these jongleurs settles the audience, and no doubt our performer as he lingers on the periphery. What follows is pure personal storytelling recounted from the safety of distance, using the writings of a varied set of poets, and spliced with poignant song.
If 60s Happenings were to take off again in this day and age they may well resemble this in style. Be brave yourself and go along, learn and reflect, be moved and inspired. Though it can be raw at times Andrew Henry, Alex Berlage and the gang (Gen, Matt, Lenore, Paulo and Simon) most of all want you to have fun. You will.
Mark G Nagle – Theatre Now & On The Town