Tynan

Based on the Diaries of Kenneth Tynan edited by John Lahr
Adapted by Richard Nelson with Colin Chambers
Royal Shakespeare Company Newcastle season Theatre Royal, Newcastle
(2004)

On a set which bears more than a passing resemblance to that of TV's Mastermind, Corin Redgrave sits for an hour and a half, taking us through a selection from Kenneth Tynan's diaries, which he began in his early forties and continued until his death.

The diaries reveal the man behind the myth, warts and all: his acerbic wit, his passion for theatre, his odd sexual proclivities, his extra-marital affairs, his mixed feelings on the birth of his son, his relationships with Olivier and Gielgud, his time as Literary Adviser at the National Theatre, the emphysema which was to prove fatal, his financial problems, his Marxism, his struggles with writer's block. Everything is there, revealing the depths of the man who is now perhaps best - and unfairly - remembered only for being the first to say "fuck" on television, for Oh Calcutta! and, regrettably a poor third, for his incisive, often funny but not always as perceptive as one might expect (witness his dismissal of Pinter), reviews.

For Redgrave this performance can only be described as a personal triumph. We sat for ninety minutes and simply did not notice the time passing. He held us in the palm of his hand. "That is a class act," my companion said as we left the Theatre Royal, and it assuredly is.

Regrettably only the first dozen or so rows of the stalls were occupied, and they were by no means filled, but Redgrave's performance created such an intimacy that we forgot about the cavernous empty spaces behind and above us and seeing them again at the end came as quite a shock.

Philip Fisher reviewed this show at the Arts Theatre, London

Reviewer: Peter Lathan