The Playgoer: Age Before Beauty

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Monday, September 12, 2011

Age Before Beauty

Guardian's Molly Flat celebrates the theatre's unique showcasing of the gifts of older actors:

Theatre, largely unbound by Hollywood's obsession with youth, has always been a good place to play out the threats and opportunities posed by age. On film and TV, even the oldest actors are somehow softened and defused by the fourth wall of a screen; on stage, their energy, bodies and hearts are unmediated....

I will never forget Michael Gambon's 2004 turn as Hamm in Samuel Beckett's aptly named Endgame. In this play, it is not just the man in the wheelchair before us who is threadbare and dispossessed; the world is ageing too. Gambon played Hamm as a monster of redundancy: a great, flailing embroidered lump grasping for the vestiges of his power with petty, pathetic cruelty; but he was also cuttingly wise and eloquent and funny, and certainly no more pathetic than Lee Evans's inept young Clov. Gambon's inimitable voice, at once vulnerable and brutal, lyrical and booming, captured the dichotomy at the centre of the play: the interdependent glory and grotesquery of man, not diminished but distilled by the passing of the years.
Ah the presence of the living body...

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