FRINGE: The Half – Theatre – Higher Ground – 4K

Anyone who’s been involved in theatre can tell you stories about the crazy process that many actors go through in the hours and minutes before curtain up. There are pre-show routines developed that have to be stuck to, “lucky” items of clothing that have to be warn, warm-ups that need to be carried out, lines that have to be run and incessant self-doubt that has to be overcome.

Guy Masterson is The Actor, a man who, despite his classical training and promising appearances in several plays many years ago, has been absent from the stage for well over a decade. He has chosen to make his return in a rather ambitious project – an unabridged, self-conceived and directed, one man production of the bard’s classic four-and-a-half hour masterpiece, Hamlet.

Writer Richard Dormer has filled the script with amusing snippets, highlighting the ridiculous traditions and superstitions that actors buy into, while also injecting a certain amount of pathos. The sections of Hamlet that are included are used well in both comic and dramatic ways, varying the pace and tone of the play nicely. The set is designed to represent a dressing room, with The Actor speaking to himself in the ever-present over-bench mirrors. Under the direction of David Calvitto, Masterson makes good use of it, moving about with great energy, while also conveying the claustrophobic feeling of the backstage space.

This is the type of role that Masterson excels at playing. The Actor is a sympathetic anti-hero, a man who is at once both exasperating and endearing. It is a fine balance to create a character that is necessarily a little over the top, but realistic enough to be hilarious, however Masterson manages to do so.

Thespians and theatre novices alike will find a lot to enjoy in The Half, yet another quality offering from Guy Masterson and the Centre for International Theatre.

Kryztoff rating: 4K

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