A magnificent performance from a great British actor in a one-off Fringe appearance. Simon Callow plays a Russian impressario in the first half od last century, exhorting an audience of the great and the good to fund his lates project. His soliloquy revolves around his proposed new ballet, “liturgy”, but in doing so covers many aspects of his own life as well as touching on Russian history. As the play ends, life mimics reality in a final dark twist.
It was an intense and masterful performance, revealed in full only when stood to Callow take his bow. As he stepped out of character he seemed to lose ten years of age and infirmity – it was like having a different man standing in front of us.
As masterful as the performance was, I found the narrative interesting rather than captivating, hence this gets 4* overall.
I’ve seen Simon Callow twice before, in Equus and a Charles Dickens monologue and I really do think he is a cut above most of the stuff we see. There is just something about him, he has a real charisma and presence in everything that he does.
Happily I wasn’t let down by this one-day-only-at-the-Fringe monologue where he plays ye olde Sergey Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes as he asks the audience for their financial and moral support for his innovative new concept in ballet. There was something special about the timing and mannerisms of SC’s performance which made it feel like lovely poetry washing all over you.
It was great, extremely technically accomplished, but not my favourite content ever. Nice enough but I wouldn’t need to see it again.