Fugue Free Theatre

Out Like Flynn
by Jeff Gladstone

Dates 5, 6, 7(matinee) and 10, 11, 12, 13 October (matinee and evening) 2007@20.00 Venue Playwrights Theatre Centre, Granville Island

Director Jack Paterson Musical Director Joanne Chapman-Smith
Sets and Costumes Nykia Graham Lighting Darren Boquist Stage Manager Jehthelo E. Cabilete

Reviewer Jane Penistan

Billed as A Seduction, A Hallucination, A Musical, Out Like Flynn is an unusual performance by a small ensemble of four actors. This cast is incredibly talented, the three women being consummate musicians who can act, and who support the major character, Errol Flynn, brilliantly portrayed by Russell Roberts. The Musical depicts what may or may not have gone through the mind of the now drink and drug-sodden spectre of the once famous, adored, charismatic film star, screen idol, actor, and writer, in his last hour.

Jack Paterson has used the limited space of the small Playwrights Theatre so that his actors have as much space as possible and are always visible to the audience who are ranged on two sides of the square acting area. The upstage corner of this is a raised bare platform. The walls are hung with off white ragged sheets, and the floor is bare, save for an assortment of wooden boxes and crates scattered by the stage right wall, and in front of the platform.

The lights go up to reveal a long and mysterious sheet covered shape lying in he middle of the stage. To the accompaniment of somewhat mystical music, three black and white clad women carrying their instruments, and singing softly, enter through the angle of the two banks of audience seats to walk to the diagonally opposite platform and form a triangle. This geometric pattern becomes a standard throughout the play, like a recurrent theme.

The two of the women lift the sheet to reveal a prostrate body, recognized as of Errol Flynn. As he is wakes from sleep he sees and greets Lilli (Laura di Chicco) his first wife. From here on in we accompany Flynn through his life of glory, triumph, and success, whether actual, or as he remembers it. It’s joys and disappointments, his philanderings, and failed marriages, leading to the disillusionment which he tries to drown in drink and drugs.

This is a tour de force on the part of Russell Roberts, who holds the stage tor more than an hour and a half and has his audience in a highly emotional state at the end of the performance. Throughout this he is ably supported by Laura de Cicco, as Lilli and Experience, Julie McIsaac as Mairan and Innocence, and Joanna Chapman-Smith, as Salomita. These three women sing and play various instruments throughout the performance, providing background for the unfolding of the story. They also mime entertainingly to enhance the film memories of the swashbuckling and glory days and play his three wives.

The music is not always in tune with the script and action. There is none of the rowdy, Broadway-style orchestration of the films of the 30s, and no relieving humour here, as there is in the dialogue and mime. There is a dirge-like quality of the singing and instrumental composition that permeates the production.

Jack Paterson has choreographed this moving and dramatic presentation with unerring insight. He has ensured that each character has it own reality in the drama, so that the decline of a brilliant, courageous life into dissolution is the all-pervading essence of the tragedy.

© 2007 Jane Penistan