Minetti

Thomas Bernhard, translated by Tom Cairns and Peter Eyre

Royal Lyceum Theatre

From 16 August 2014 to 18 August 2014

Rating: ***

Review by Philip Fisher

Considering its subject matter, Minetti is almost anti-dramatic. Although the stage is well populated, this is effectively a monologue, penned by feted Austrian Thomas Bernhard, which lasts just shy of 90 minutes including an interval.

As such, the production is a vehicle for veteran Peter Eyre to act his heart out as a thespian who is awaiting rescue from three decades of obscurity.

Frankly, as his fellow guests in an Ostend hotel reception area quickly identify, the old man is a bore with a deep love of theatre.

As he repeatedly emphasises, 30 years back he had played Lear before becoming embroiled in some kind of criminal activities that seem to have consisted in no more than turning his back on the classics while Artistic Director of a theatre.

Thereafter, he has been in the regional doldrums prior to his current trip to cap his career by returning to the role of the mad old King.

With him is a beloved mask, a metaphor used throughout the New Year’s Eve proceedings, primarily on drunken revellers.

However, the main metaphor of this short theatrical evening lies in the association between Minetti’s sad failure to interact with the world after turning his back on it and that of his hero, King Lear.

This culminates in an unforgettable final vignette when the two become one, with mask and snow storm.

As one might expect from an International Festival production, the creative team has pushed the boat out on an expensive set depicting the upmarket 1960s hotel lobby where the action takes place.

This is supplemented by a supporting cast of 23 including the likes of Sian Thomas and John Nettleton taking the kind of bit part roles that would normally be given to understudies.

Minetti pays homage to the theatre and is a witty but very slight piece that gives Peter Eyre an opportunity to shine, which he duly takes.