Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Barrymore"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


"What Happened in Boston, Willie"

Reviews of Current Productions

note: entire contents copyright 2002 by Larry Stark


by William Luce
Directed by Joseph Zamparelli Jr.

Set & Costume Design by Jito Lee
Lighting Design by John Wiese
Sound Design by Jeffrey Gage
Stage Manager Teresa Goding

John Barrymore........................................Jerry Robbins
Prompter...............................................Drew Decorleto

It's so easy to confuse the actor with the role, and expect them to be, off-stage, what they are when on. Happened all the time in Hollywood, where stage-actors went to make fortunes when movies started to talk, and the shadow of a scene or a speech had to be played only once before it, and not the actor, had to play it to thousands. That left often gifted actors with too much free money and too much time to spend it. That was why, when a drinking buddy of theirs died W.C. Fields and John Barrymore got him out of the coffin to accompany them on one last pub-crawl. How else could they live with themselves, without a giggle or two here and there...

Jerry Robbins has that witty, acid-tongued quipster down pat, including the agile footwork, the quickly disappearing quart of rye whisky (and some of the back-up bottle of brandy too!), and the impatient flairs of anger at the offstage prompter (and himself) when trying to run elusive lines. That's what makes it such a shock when his Barrymore merely locks into a stance and rips off a stunning Shakespearean speech. These fiery coals among the ashes of a burnt-out career make this often bawdy biographical retrospective both surprising, and slightly sad.

It will be up for two more week-ends, and (I hope) may tour.


"Barrymore" (1 - 17 March)
Mass Bay Community College, 80 Oakland Street, WELLESLEY, MA
1 (781) 235-0488

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide