THE ACTOR'S NIGHTMARE/'DENTITY CRISIS
Theatre Museum, London WC2
Opened 19 May, 1992

Christopher Durang is finally beginning to get the attention he deserves on this side of the pond: his ebullient chop sueys of sexuality, Catholicism and psychotherapy (even in lesser pieces like these two) always make one sit up, and at best can simultaneously exhilarate and bewilder.

The easy, everyday speed at which director Mehmet Ergen unfolds 'Dentity Crisis adds to our sympathy with protagonist Jane's hysteria; as the same actor slides between four personae, three of whom are vying for the favours of her mother who claims to be Edith Fromage, the inventor of cheese, and her analyst and his wife undergo sex-changes, we can understand that confusions might arise.

The same pace, however, doesn't work in the preceding The Actor's Nightmare. A bare Theatre Museum stage is somehow barer than most, and when unwitting accountant George suddenly finds himself onstage in doublet and hose playing Elyot in Private Lives, actor Gavin Miller labours nobly but needs to fill the space with more frenzy. The No Wall company acquit themselves honourably and remain a group to watch, but on Durang's roller-coasters they need to remember to shift gears occasionally.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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