Standing on the shoulders of giants is never easy, but the view that you see, the distance and insight made possible because of their shining example is worth more than mere currency, it is the opportunity granted to learn and take note. Such is the effect that the return to Unity Theatre of Told By An Idiot’s My Perfect Mind has on the audience that it time to come it will surely be looked upon as a classic piece of theatre of the early 21st Century.
The Human brain is such a fragile piece of complex machinery, a computer more powerful and with the ability to do so much, that one tiny breakdown, one small clot that forms in its narrow passageways, can cause the machine to send error messages that have the intricate and complicated synapses terrified of knowing what’s to come next. For Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter, My Perfect Mind is not just a play; it is an exercise in reconnection, of producing the delicate balance between the devastating effects of synaptic misfires and stroke and the humour in performance. It is a moment in time to treasure as they succeed perfectly.
My Perfect Mind is a response to Edward Petherbridge’s stroke as he was starting rehearsals in New Zealand for King Lear. The might of King’s wrath against his daughter bought more damaging fruit that would ever be thought possible but also allowed something sensational, something only the Human brain could perhaps allow, to surface. Lear’s Fool can be said to be unseen, that only the aged monarch can truly see him, the whispering ghost of conscience, much like a brain sent out of phase by illness, only the fool can bring Lear back to a safer place.
For Paul Hunter to perform every other part in Mr. Petherbridge’s life, from his mother who by some sort of genetic breakdown also suffered a stroke two days before she gave birth to the classic actor, to an outrageously superb Laurence Olivier, taxi drivers, the young Australian actor fresh out of Drama School to the Doctor who treated him in the weeks after the stroke, all the players had their parts to play in the life and rehabilitation of the man and Mr. Hunter was exquisite at connecting those dots.
It is though Mr. Petherbridge who holds the play and the his life up for scrutiny, a herculean moment on stage as all is laid bare but with grace, humility and the right amount of laughter in which to show that the Human mind may be fragile, might be imperfect and capable of being bruised and haunted but like Lear himself, capable of reaching out through the darkness and creating something stunning and noble.
If in 2013 My Perfect Mind was one of the finest plays to come to Liverpool, then in 2014 it doesn’t just stand on the shoulders of giants, it whispers down its ears and points the way forward. Spellbinding!
Ian D. Hall, Liverpool Sound and Vision
This is a larger than life show, achingly funny at times and brings together all that a night out at the theatre should be. With a clever script and set design and two wonderful actors that lead you through ninety minutes of sheer joy and merriment, My Perfect Mind is a must see.
Janie Phillips, WhatsOnStage (read full review)
Jo Beggs, The Public Reviews (read full review)
Yesterday Edward and Paul Hunter were interviewed about the show on BBC Radio Merseyside. Hear them on BBC iPlayer (the interview begins approximately 40 minutes in).
|Liverpool Anglican Cathedral’s massive Vestey Tower by night.|
Photo by EP
From the Unity audience comment board.
Photo by EP