Essentially Theatre, Harlequin

Review in Issue 7-2 | Summer 1995

Billed as the ‘life of the great Russian theatre director, Meyerhold’, Harlequin presented Meyerhold’s struggle with Stanislavski over the basics of theatre, actor, character and the approach and presentation of each. Unfortunately, Russian politics were hurled in too.

The play flicked through time at great pace – pace being the commodity the whole production had plenty of. Simon Hemmingway portrayed Stanislavski, emotionally enacting scenes from the classics with the seriousness one would expect of such a figure. Meyerhold (Matthew Lewis) somersaulted into each scene, itching to improvise, boiling Stanislavski’s blood as they argued whose method was better. This partnership received immense empathy from the audience. Everyone enjoyed the bickering, the tumbling and the material. Yet, late into the story, politics reared its ugly head. Two actors arrived and over-balanced the whole equation. Stalin (Morgan George) wore a clown’s nose, spluttered around and stompily destroyed the beauty of it all. This chaos stayed to the end, where the story wildly lost its bearings and fell flat.

Harlequin, directed by Mark Heron and assisted by Reflective Theatre’s Garl Jones, is good. Very good. When the politics were ignored, the real intriguing story rose to the surface: Meyerhold vs Stanislavski. A classic case of less is more?

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1995

This article in the magazine

Issue 7-2
p. 24