The play is centred in the lobby of a grand hotel in Ostend. It is New Year’s Eve and Minetti, an elderly out of work actor, arrives in anticipation of meeting a theatre director who he hopes will cast him in the role of King Lear, a part he last played thirty years ago to great acclaim.
A snow storm rages outside and mirrors the turbulent emotions of Minetti as he paces the floor, analysing his identity and the reasons as to why he has been left isolated from this ambiguous profession for so long. Occasionally he interacts with the odd guest and his musings are at times interrupted by a group of young party goers who flit in and out of the lobby.
Peter Eyre plays Minetti with great passion. He is fan of Thomas Bernhard’s writing, which features monologues involving characters on the fringes of life. At first though, the play seems ineffectual, undramatic, but gradually as, metaphorically the hours pass and the theatre director doesn’t arrive, we become engaged in the agony of this character whose dreams of success have been shattered. And the cameo parts played by Sian Thomas, Steven Beard, Leigh Gill, Deirdre Doone and John Nettleton enhance his frustration at being unable to communicate his loss of identity to a wider audience.
This pathos is exaggerated by his repetitive phrases and constant musing on a King Lear mask made for him by an eminent artist. And the play quietly concludes – after a wild snow storm scene - with him standing, in isolation, wearing the King Lear mask which seems to encapsulate the wretchedness of his life.
Tom Cairns, the Director and Designer of this simple stage set, is also a fan of Bernhard’s writing and his direction enhances the loneliness of this tragic character with [mostly] anonymous people coming in and out of the lobby and periodic displays of unbridled exuberance displayed by the young party-goers – played by actors from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, London and the Juilliard School, New York.
It’s a poignant production of this ‘masterpiece’ and Peter Eyre gives an enthralling performance.
Sunday 17 August 2.30pm, Monday 18 August 8pm