Guy Masterson took to the stage with his newest work, The Half, written by Richard Dormer and directed by David Calvitto. All three have won the Best Actor Award at the Edinburgh Fringe, in three consecutive years, which makes a formidable team, and it shows. Calvitto and Masterson have created a superb piece that will have you rolling in the aisles one moment, feeling for The Actor another, and frustrated with him a moment later.
This hilarious backstage theatrical comedy finds us on the opposite side of a wall of make-up mirrors, looking through them into a dressing room, where somebody is found taking a nap. When he awakens, we find that he is The Actor, about to open in a one man play. He receives his thirty-five minute call, known to those of us in theatre as 'the half', over the speaker. That short time to the curtain call, especially on a first performance, is filled with emotions, from excitement to nerves, even to panic, and many side roads along the way.
For this man, it is heightened by the fact that he is fifty, has not worked in fifteen years, and has financed this production himself, facing the loss of everything. He is also worrying that the enormity of his choice of play might just be a bit beyond him, a one man production of Shakespeare's Hamlet (unabridged), hour after hour of it.
He begins to go through his routine of preparation, but gets distracted, caught up in theatrical superstitions, suffers bouts of self-doubt, recriminations, anger at his estranged wife, and is forced to face his demons. An Actor Prepares, but not in any way that Constantin Stanislavsky could ever have envisaged the process, although A Challenge for The Actor might strike a chord with Uta Hagen.
Masterson adds a a vast amount of brilliantly executed physical comedy to the already extremely side-achingly funny script. He slips easily between the belly laughs and the moments of sadness, anger and doubt. This is another magnificent tour de force for Masterson, and his legion of Adelaide fans and supporters will not be disappointed.
Everybody who has ever been an actor will recognise people that they know in watching this piece, perhaps even themselves. It is not at all necessary, though, to have a theatrical background to appreciate the humour, or the darker moments of despair and self doubt. This is a piece for everybody.
Those who have seen Masterson perform in the past will need to urging to go to see this production but, if you are one of those that have not had that good fortune, make the most of this opportunity. Make sure to catch all of the other productions that he has brought to Adelaide for the Fringe, before it is too late.
Reviewed by Barry Lenny, Arts Editor, Glam Adelaide.
Venue: Higher Ground, 9-15 Light Square, Adelaide
Season: To 18th March 2012
Tickets: $21 to $24
Bookings: FringeTix 1300-FRINGE (1300 374 643), FringeTix outlets, or online
Image: Brigitta Scholz-Mastroianni