|Rupert Graves Online: Stage Productions.
Year: - 1997, 1998.
Author: - Dave Rabe.
Synopsis Or Review:
Years ago I saw the film of Bret Easton Ellis’ horrific novel Less Than Zero. I left the cinema then with the same urgent convictions with which I left the Queen’s Theatre recently on the opening night of David Rabe’s Hurlyburly - a) never move to southern California, b) never get a job in the film industry and c) never take drugs (or at least, not in such frightening quantity).
We are subjected to all of these things in Hurlyburly. It is a terrible, nightmarish world indeed and yet one that is squeamishly riveting. We do not like this world, we do not like these characters and yet we’re compelled to watch.
The four central male characters are the men your mother always warned you about, but poor old mum didn’t know the half of it. They are cold, heartless, unfaithful, uncaring individuals who treat the women who stray into their sights with a degree of compassion normally reserved for cockroaches. These thirty-something men have left marriages and kids behind in their quests for good times, identity, love and the all elusive ‘clarity’.
Hurlyburly is not so much plot as slice of life, which revolves around Eddie, played electrically by Rupert Graves.
This is a long way from Graves’ Merchant Ivory past but he both rises and stumbles to the occasion. We watch with horror as, again and again, he metamorphoses from slick studio exec to reeling, spitting, drugged out disaster area. The rest of the characters are also quite mesmerising, in particular Andy Serkis’ maniac Phil who is both menacing and touching and Susannah Doyle’s (of Drop the Dead Donkey fame) wronged, party girl Bonnie.
The weak link in this cast is undeniably Jenny Seagrove who plays Eddie’s girlfriend Darlene. She is just not up to the standard of the others. In the incredible drug-addled debates and machine-gun exchanges, Seagrove acts as the virtual handbrake. She comes on the stage looking and sounding awkward in her character and American accent - and the delivery of her lines is unbearably sluggish in comparison. Part of this may be attributed to her character’s drug abstention but not all.
This is the only real drawback, however. Wilson Milam’s direction is taut, Rabe’s writing sparkles - especially filmic phrases such as “spin off of a prime-time life” and “you’re a prop”. You may forever lose your film star fantasies with Hurlyburly but it’s worth it.
Hurlyburly, at The Queen’s Theatre for a limited season, is the first West End transfer of the Peter Hall company’s residency at the Old Vic.
©1997 Terri Paddock.
|Cast & Crew Information:
Eddie - Rupert Graves.
Director - Wilson Milam.
Assistant Director - Charlotte Bond.
Lighting Designer - Martin Hazlewood.
Company Stage Manager - Sheena Linden.
Wardrobe - Claudia Bassi.