Saturday, November 25, 2006

Voyage round my Father - Derek Jacobi

You've just a few weeks left to catch one of theatre's finest ever performances. Derek Jacobi is wondrous as the old and irascible barrister in John Mortimer's voyage round my Father, now at the Wyndham's Theatre in London. The performance has a Beethoven quality to it, real music in his delivery of the language, beautiful modulations of voice and tone, funny and commanding and touching.
It made me realize how right I was to give up acting for writing. This is an acting masterclass - I could never come near its quality. Yet how wonderful to have such an actor inhabit your words in such a way. Derek Jacobi reckons John Mortimer is 'generous' in his appreciation of the performance, reckoning it is the best he has known - since Alec Guinness and Laurence Olivier have played the parts before, it is indeed a fine encomium, but I reckon John Mortimer is also slavering with gratitude. Such a performance of your work, reaching all its depths yet polished to a shine, must justify a writing life.
The death scene took me back, for the first time, to my own father's death. One of those gentle epiphanies a true evening in the theatre can reach.


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