Review: 3*** The Actor’s Nightmare – Park Theatre 90 @ParkTheatre

Tweetingit: 3* Six mini playlets explore the mysteries of theatre in this patchy but broadly enjoyable portrayal of industry stereotypes.

Satire is the most challenging genre for both writer and performer. It requires a subtle, understated form of wit and a deep understanding of the subject matter. Actor’s Nightmare is Christopher Durang’s take on the entertainment industry; although hit and miss there is enough substance to hold the interest with the help of a bright cast. Meaghan Martin, Kate Sumpter, Layo-Christina Akinlude, Adrian Richards and Stefan Menaul take on multiple roles in six short plays collected as a stand-alone piece.

Mrs Sorken is a monologue based exposition of theatre and the art of acting. Annoying and po faced, the title character cleverly reminds us of someone we’ve all met before. Business Lunch at the Russian Tea Room relates a familiar tale; a struggling screenwriter desperate for a break will take anything for a decent paycheck. His grasping agent introduces him to a voracious producer who pitches the most outlandish ideas for a film; but will he take the bait?

A spot of Greek tragedy follows with a unique version of Euripides’ Medea. Woman Stand-Up is another monologue featuring a comedian with her own canned laughter. It betrays little purpose or direction aside from the inference that comedy often attracts manic depressives. Desire, Desire, Desire is an alternative take on a Street Car Named Desire and the cue for some thickly sliced ham acting. The finale, Actor’s Nightmare is an oddly engaging piece featuring an accountant trapped as an understudy in a constantly changing play.

Although the narrative broadly makes its point, there is no real insight to provide a true satirical edge. It often does no more than state the obvious; yes, actors can on occasion be egotistical and self-indulgent; so what else is new? The Russian Tea Room is the story that works best, revealing the twisted relationship between agents, writers and producers in the movie industry. The Actor’s Nightmare is a chaotic though entertaining romp that strays into farce on more than one occasion. It features extracts from a number of plays including Hamlet and a Man for All Season, but presents an exaggerated version that that doesn’t always work. Nevertheless, the cast bring it home with characteristic energy and commitment. 

Writer: Christopher Durang

Director: Lydia Parker

Producers: 3 Hearts Canvas/Over Here Theatre Company

Box Office: 020 7870 6876

Booking Link: https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/the-actors-nightmare

Booking Until: 10 August 2019

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