The Actor’s Nightmare

JACK ROBERTS is impressed by farce good enough that it need be nothing else.

actor's nightmare Dannish Babar farce Giulia Galastro

Corpus Playroom, 19th-23rd October, 7 30pm, £5-6

Directed by Brittany Wellner


The Actor’s Nightmare was actually the exact opposite.  The cast lapped up the opportunities provided by Christopher Durang’s play to send up their trade, each performer effortlessly shifting between actors-acting-badly and something much more sinister…

An accountant, played by Dannish Babar, is mistaken for the understudy of a crash-crippled (‘both legs broken darling’) lead, and must now perform. What’s more, the play he is forced into frequently changes.  So begins a damn good farce, of which there aren’t enough in the world.

Babar did an excellent job of muddling and bumbling through the situation thrust upon him. Particular highlights were his quixotically gallant tilts at solving his Noel Coward love dilemma, and the most pitiful rendition of the ABC I have ever heard. The real laughs , however, came from the rest of the cast. Rozzi Nicholson-Lailey (such a good actress’ name I don’t believe it’s real) was especially fantastic as the irate co-star in Private Lives while Ryan O’Sullivan produced some scarily realistic third rate acting as Horatio in Hamlet.

Always at it, those actors

The Actor’s Nightmare is not just a light hearted romp. The play (a little too suddenly) becomes darker as we see Babar’s character release his own personal dramas onto the stage, in a powerful transition from the comedic fish-out-of-water to the tragic everyman. While this was not entirely smooth, it never felt uncomfortable.

Events gallops towards a crescendo when we are suddenly reminded of the play’s title… the execution scene from A Man For All Seasons is the next play up.  At this point the audience’s laughter becomes more and more nervous.

A more ambitious version of the play would have tried to make more of this, but there were still enough humour in the more horrific parts to avoid the dreaded “pretentious” moniker. Giulia Galastro, as an amalgamation of Samuel Beckett characters, did an especially excellent job of steering the play from farce to black comedy.

While The Actor’s Nightmare is by no means the best production you will see at Cambridge this year, it is still good fun and compelling enough to make it worth an hour of your time. While some may like it for the various things we could read into it (dreams, ‘What a piece of work is man!’ and all that) everyone is guaranteed, at least, a bloody good laugh.