Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Hurricane

Richard Dormer
Soho Theatre
(2004)

It is easy to see why this solo show, that brings the life of snooker player Alex "Hurricane" Higgins into the public gaze yet again, was one of the successes of Edinburgh last year. It won Dormer the Stage Best Actor Award as well as the BBC Stewart Parker.

Under Rachel O'Riordan's direction, Richard Dormer gives an awesome, sweat-soaked performance as one of those flawed heroes like George Best, Oliver Reed (who Dormer imitates well) or, on stage, Jeffrey Bernard. Not only does he look like a seventies rock star in his tight trousers and blood-red shirt but his man behaves like one too.

He succeeds in generating sympathy for a man who is determinedly self-destructive and that is never easy to do. It must be ten times harder, knowing that the person that you are glorifying and lampooning is in the audience on press night, watching your every move.

It is interesting to contemplate that, had he had his own way, The Hurricane might have been known as Alexander the Great. From childhood, it was clear that Higgins would not lead a conventional life. He has the ultimate addictive personality. Whether it was drugs and gambling, "booze and birds" or fame and glory, he had no desire to resist.

All of this is graphically depicted with rock music interludes and much humour. By the end, though, it is poignancy that has triumphed. Ultimately, the ultra-fit Dormer almost encapsulates his hero's life in the contents of four suitcases, and that is tragic.

The sadness is that as well as wrecking his own life, Higgins made things very hard for others in the snooker world and also for a series of loving, star struck women and his two lovely children.

Richard Dormer, who has both written and lived this show, deserves accolades for a pacy performance that is rarely less than entertaining. Even if you had never heard of Higgins, your presence at Hurricane would guarantee a hair-raising hour at the theatre.

This production was also reviewed by Catherine Lamm

Reviewer: Philip Fisher