Directed by Helen Dallimore
Darlinghurst Theatre Company
39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Season: 4 November – 4 December
The world of theatre is totally unique, where actors take on a role like that of no other industry. Mamet’s play, A Life in the Theatre, is a humorous ode to this curious lifestyle and love of thousands of people around the world. Director Helen Dallimore brings a glimmering new approach to Mamet’s text that is both innovative and engaging. With an affable cast with a flair for comedic charm, this is a show that appeals to the hugely relatable experiences had by those in the creative industry, and sheds an intriguing light for those who tend to remain in the audience rather than venturing backstage.
The play sees two actors cast in the same show, one a fledgling performer and the other, well seasoned. Akos Armont plays John, the emerging actor, abounding with confidence and the characteristics of hubris at the early stages of his career. John Gaden plays Robert, an actor well worn with experience on the stage, providing ample contrast to John. It’s an odd couple pairing that sets us up for a good comedic ride. Armont and Gaden have developed a strong rapport that is well manipulated when the characters get under each other’s skin in the cosy nook of the shared dressing room.
Dallimore’s directorial vision twists the audience’s view to the back of the stage, giving us an insider look. The performance excerpts are executed facing away from the audience, with Armont and Gaden’s faces seen through backstage television screens. A welcome addition to the cast is the very visible stage manager – played alternately by actual Assistant Stage Managers Sunil Chandra and Angela Atkinson. With grace and humour, this role was an amusing highlight of the piece for me and underlined the incredible work done by stage managers night after night, usually unseen.
Many of the instances throughout the show I have experienced a form of personally in theatre, and I am sure will hit very close for comfort for many an actor. It is so relatable it warrants a grimace in sections; yet other parts of the tale elicit a strong fondness for the theatre. The play is not hard-hitting, nor is it life-changing, however it is a lovely dedication to the experience of theatre that so many know and love, and strikes with wonder many more.