When A Man goes Mad
SOME of the most agonising moments of life are those in which we seek to break through the barrier of existence, and see ourselves, so to speak, from without. In man's analysis of himself, in his struggle to find out what really goes on at the apex of his personality, he has learnt much from the contemplation of his own day-dreams.
When the fantasy becomes the dominant reality, he knows he is sick. When he no longer sees it as fantasy at all, his reason has deserted him. The development of this terrifying process is the subject of The Diary of a Madman (Royal Court), a one-man performance, in which Richard Harris talks to himself for two hours, and for most of the time holds his audience spellbound.
He could almost stop speaking altogether, so eloquent are his movements and gestures, and we would still see and understand, until the almost overwhelming moment when the entries in this insane diary project themselven as graffiti on the wall_
This is an adaptation, written jointly by Mr. Harris and Mr. Lindsay Anderson, of Gogol's Ivanovitch, a poor clerk who loves a woman in a higher social bracket, and fights, on an imaginary plane, the drab inhabitants of his persecution complex. The tension of a failure screaming against the %mid of success in which he lives leads to the ultimate fantasy when be sees himself as Ferdinand VIII of Spain. To a greater or less degree, the first part of the story is the story of us all.
TELEVISION has satiated us -Iwith the working-class play in which sensible minds hide under cloth caps and hearts of gold behind dungarees and aprons. For the first act of Bill Naughton's play All in Good Time at the Mermaid Theatre. the mixture seems the same as before.
We have the wedding reception scene with all the coarse merriment and the bawdy jokes at the expense of the newly-weds, to the particular embarrassment of the bridegroom, who is the sensitive type with a record player and a penchant for Beethoven. And when his bride laughs at the collapse of their wedding bed. "fixed" by the relations, the marriage gets a set-back which makes it unsuccessful and no marriage at all.
In the second act, however, Naughton lets us into the real minds of his characters and shows us not the mawkishness of the television characters but the inarticulate dignity and sensitivity of his working-class nngs-ecelas.s people. This is as brilliant a piece of theatre as any I h
Marjorie Rhodes gives a superb portrayal of the "Mum" with an uncompromising exterior and a dumb sense of beauty within. Bernard Miles. who up to now has been happier behind the stage, is magnificent as the slow-witted father whose love is only waiting to he tipped. The Mermaid has another hit on its hands.