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The Artist

5
World premiere seen at the Theatre Royal Plymouth
By Robert Iles - 22nd May 2024

The Artist - Review

The Artist was an award winning 2011 film by Michel Hazanavicius, a love story set in Hollywood (Hollywoodland as it was then) at the end of the silent movie era. George Valentin, a silent movie action hero star, falls for Peppy Miller, a young background dancer. As talkies emerge, their fortunes are reversed, her voice becomes her fortune and his refusal to accept the new "talkie" ways leaves him isolated and forgotten.

Adapting the film for stage presents a number of challenges, most notably the fact that it was mostly shot as a silent film, is in black and white and one of the main characters is a dog! However, the stage adaptors Lindsey Ferrentino and Drew McOnie have done a truly splendid job. The stage design takes you straight back to the silent era, helped hugely by the clever video projection. For the first half we are genuinely in the silent era, musical accompaniment but no vocals! All the dialogue is projected above, in the style of the old "word boards" in silent movies. A lot of the story is told through dance which was extremely effective, entertaining and expressive. The emergence of voices (and noise) is very clever, as is Valentin's refusal to speak with his dialogue remaining projected.

The cast and absolutely on point, as the styles of dance change they give each a sharpness that is impressive. Robbie Fairchild as Valentine is excellent and Briana Craig's Peppy Miller is just fabulous, credible and emotionally true throughout. A special mention, of course, to Thimas Walton as Uggie (the dog) who gives us a characterful and utterly believable mutt - some of the best puppetry I have seen on stage. Rachel Muldoon as Constance and Gary Wilmot as ZImmer provide solid support but, to be honest, the entire cast really deserved the standing ovation they got.

This really is my sort of theatre; inventive, original, slightly crazy, unexpected, witty, beautifully designed and performed with huge skill and commitment - I wish it a long life!


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Viewings over the last 14 days
 
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Posted 28th Mar 24 :: 45 views
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