Steven Berkoff’s latest work, the tawdry Six Actors in Search of a Director, presents a frustrating collection of pampered actors whining for near-on ninety minutes. It uses a recognisable set up; actors filming at an isolated location enter into their hotel lounge moaning about lukewarm coffee and demanding multiple takes. In this room they must stay, waiting for their director to call them into action. Dashing any hope that Berkoff might somehow subvert this hackneyed concept, the characters continue as they began. With recognisable types doing what we expect, the play is an all too familiar journey to a predictable destination.
Andrée Bernard and Philip Voss give admirable performances despite their thinly written characters
The grating, symmetrical sextet of three men and three women proceed in a succession of varyingly banal proclamations of the “nobility” and “holiness” of an actor’s craft. The play seems only to reinforce negative stereotypes of actors as exasperating, self-centred “luvvies”. Andrée Bernard and Philip Voss give admirable performances despite their thinly written characters.
The monochrome set, designed by Nigel Hook, cleverly creates a false sense of height and depth and initially appears like a set for a cutting farce. Berkoff’s direction, though, unfortunately lacks any sense of bite or spontaneity. Heightened to an absurd degree, any satirical humour is lost. The characters’ wittering is maddening and the production’s humourless triteness is even more trying; a surprisingly uninventive play from such a renowned veteran of stage and screen.
** (2 stars)
Runs until 23rd June