My immediate impression of Eddie Elks black comedy was the stunning and absorbing performance given by Dan Frost in the role of abstract painter Roger Hilton CBE. The play is set in Hilton’s bedroom sometime in the final years of his life in the 1970’s. He awakes at 3 o’clock in the morning. At this time of his life he appears to have become a recluse and an alcoholic insomniac.
Thoughts and reminisces pour into his mind. Strangely, he engages in conversation with his battered radio. He is appearing as a guest on Desert Island Discs being interviewed by himself. Random questions spark off answers which can be lucid when talking of his views on art, or bitingly funny, or wildly chaotic revealing a mind on the edge of insanity.
His reminiscing as a young artist in Paris is beautifully descriptive as when he remembers the deep impact of a life model named May. We can almost see into his mind as May allows her red robe to gently fall to the floor to reveal her naked body. At the more bizarre end of his imaginings he plays a game of hide and seek with the voice in the radio.
This is a play which is fascinating because we can see into the mind of an acclaimed artist when it is exposed in such a raw way. What is the famous quotation? “There is no genius without some touch of madness.” Particularly in abstract art, many would subscribe to this view. A number of Hilton’s works are projected on to a screen at the end and they do defy rational interpretation which would be entirely in line with Hilton’s viewpoint.
Reviewed by Ben
Gilded Balloon Teviot/Billiard Room; 14
1 to 27 August 2012 (not 14 & 21)
13.40 – 14.50
Fringe Programme Page Number: 262