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6 Actors in Search of a Director at Charing Cross Theatre. From left: Sarah Chamberlain (Debra), Philip Voss (Charles), Ruth Everett (Francis), Paul Trussell (Alan) and Neil Stuke (Brian). Photo by Marilyn Kingwill
by Tom Marshall
Thursday, June 21, 2012
I once spent the most tedious working day of my life as an extra on a Guy Ritchie flick, standing around in a warehouse doing next to nothing for 10 hours straight.
By the end of the day, even as a penniless 16-year-old, the £50 I pocketed felt like scant recompense for the excruciating boredom I’d been subjected to.
Prolific actor and director Steven Berkoff, whose film credits include Octopussy, Rambo and Beverly Hills Cop (though no Ritchie works to my knowledge), is no doubt all too familiar with the interminable waiting between takes, and that’s what his latest play is all about.
Six thesps sit in a featureless hotel room waiting to be summoned by their director, who takes on an almost religious significance as the man grasping their destinies in his hands.
That’s about it as far as the plot goes. They sit, wait, moan, bicker, wait some more, and ultimately not a whole lot happens. It’s six actors in search of a director and one play in dire need of some action.
The characters go in circles, repetitively fixating on the same details: the lukewarm coffee, the ropey catering, the director’s brutal attention to detail, their feelings about the film’s A-list star. Occasionally they break out into searching self-examination, but with none of the characters being particularly likeable or engaging, it’s hard to care.
It does successfully create a convincing portrait of this world, and there are flashes of wit, including a funny off-stage opening where we hear the director at work, while the cast is strong, particularly Neil Stuke as wind-up merchant Brian, an entertaining presence throughout.
But by the time the sextet are put out of their misery in achingly predictable fashion, it has – like my time on the Snatch set – simply dragged on too long.
* Six Actors in Search of a Director is at the Charing Cross Theatre in Villiers Street, WC2, until June 23.