Monthly Archives: April 2013

Playing the King

As usual Shakespeare got there first when in Richard II he said, “For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings…”
Usually I try not to read reviews of shows that I am in until the show has closed, but this one was hard to avoid, and as it is spectacularly positive, I post the link to it here: http://www.floridatheateronstage.com/reviews/performances/mortality-is-funny-as-well-as-terrifying-in-superb-absurdist-exit-the-king-at-dramaworks/
When Bill Hayes, producing artistic director at Palm Beach Dramaworks, called me, I wasn’t surprised that he was planning a production of Eugene Ionesco’s absurdist masterpiece Exit the King. After all Palm Beach Dramaworks has a motto: “theatre to think about”. I was somewhat surprised that he offered me the title role. Specially as we talked about how taken he was with the recent Broadway production for which Australian actor Geoffrey Rush won a Tony.
“I am not Geoffrey Rush.” I told Bill.
“I know.” he said.
“Not even a little bit,” I went on, wanting to make the point very clear. “I mean we are both Australian, but that’s as far as it goes. Geoffrey has the physique of a q-tip and the metabolism of a credit card. I am a stout character man whose knee-bends are not what they used to be.”
“I know.” said Bill.
“So it will be a comparatively sedentary approach.”
“No problem.” said Bill.
Talking of Geoffrey Rush and his colleague Neil Armfield, their adaptation has done for Exit the King what Stephen Daldry (who directed Billy Elliott) did for J.B. Priestly’s An Inspector Calls. A fresh eye a generation later, has revealed the play in a new and exciting light.
Exit the King remains a light hearted yet poignant romp through some of the issues which surround the great universal leveler—otherwise known as death. But a heightened style and physical vocabulary in the production makes the play freshly accessible. It also has me very active during the 90 minutes of stage time—hmn…I may not be the actual G. Rush, but maybe we are related?
We have an incredible cast: the wonderful Beth Dimon (she and I were in Copenhagen 2010), the splendid Rob Donohoe (he and I were in The Pitmen Painters 2011), the incomparable Angie Radosh, the magnificent Jim Ballard, and the luminous Claire Brownell. All under the inspired direction of Bill Hayes, assisted with panache by Lynette Barclay, the whole thing supported by the outstanding design, management, and technical expertise at Palm Beach Dramaworks!
Does that sound like I want to keep working at Dramaworks? Yes! But it’s also another way to say that, for an actor, the chance to do interesting work with great people is as good as it gets.