BWW Movie Reviews: BARRYMORE - A Great Actor Embodies a Great Actor
"A Great Actor Embodies a Great Actor"
After seeing the film version of the stage play "Barrymore" the other night at then Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, I looked up the information on the evolution of this brilliant show.
Evidently Christopher Plummer stepped into the role originally in 1995. The show was done in a run in NYC. He is now performing in regularly in his hometown of Toronto and taking it on tour.
The film version was produced in 2011 and appears to be making it's way across the planet.
Here is Santa Fe, there was a large crown for the one night only screening at the Lensic. Theater.
Now, I normally do not review films, only live plays. But this show as filmed in such a way that it is a play. It is an intimate and powerful version of a play.
And with this new HD technology, on the big screen one experiences it as if one is in the front row, which is really, really marvelous.
In the first few minutes, I felt irritated. "Oh, no" I thought as Plummer as Barrymore stumbled around the stage. "Is this just another version of the brilliant yet ravaged drunk artist who never overcomes his demons?"
Well, the answer to that question is both yes and no.
Yes, in some ways the story is a cliché. But, because of the aliveness of Plummer's performance, it does transcend that potential trap.
The writing is tight and specific with really interesting stories included that make up his life. From his relationship with his famous siblings (Lionel and Ethel) to his commentary on his own stage roles, it is all quite compelling. It is a deep inventory of a full life towards the end of that life. Ultimately, I found the play to be a deep reflection on mortality-the fight against facing it and the ultimate surrender and acceptance of it.
And despite the characters deep and painfully extreme alcoholism that has robbed him of some of his gifts including the ability to remember his lines, his insightful reflection of himself keeps the script from being a maudlin tragedy.