Review: Being Sellers, Waterloo East Theatre
Waterloo East Theatre
IN A NUTSHELL
David Boyle recreates the comic actor as he struggles to come to terms with a lifetime of nastiness.
First things first, David Boyle has a look of Peter Sellers, especially in profile. Not essential, but it helps, especially in light of the myth about the great comic actor - that Sellers was an empty vessel devoid of character traits on which to hang an impression.
This is a thesis that playwright Carl Caulfield is keen to explode. Sellers, he suggests, was simply mean-spirited. A layer of Freudian hooptedoodle with his pushy mother and hints at mental anguish stand no scrutiny. There was no enigma, just nastiness.
So, in this one-man show, Sellers goes from hospital bed to purgatory, reliving his life in the hope of some kind of insight into his spite.
This is an excuse to run through his Greatest Hits - Clouseau, Chance, Dr Strangelove and, of course, the Goons.
Those were his happiest days, he says, and also the audience's most invigorating moments as Boyle races through a mock Goon Show, the voices coming thick and fast.
We never quite forgive Sellers for his brutish behaviour, but it's here where we come closest, when nostalgia undercuts objectivity.
There's not much new here, especially after The Life And Death Of Peter Sellers pursued a similar patchwork examination. So what's left to enjoy is an impassioned and invigorating performance from Boyle under Simon Green's lively direction.
This production marks the 30th anniversary of the Goon's untimely death and will bring audiences into the new Waterloo East Theatre. Both space and the performance deserve a kindly reception.
Unlike Sellers at the Pearly Gates.
Until Nov 19. Go to waterlooeast.co.uk.