Kubrick 3

2013_part_2_kubrick 3There is normally a division between an actor and a character, between an audience and a performer, between truth and fiction, but in this piece from London based theatre company PIT, performing as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, all lines are blurred. Based on the story of Alan Conway, also known as Eddie Jablowsky, sometimes also known as Stanley Kubrick, and made more bizarre by the fact that it is utterly true, Kubrick 3 tells of an alcoholic failed businessman who takes the name of the Oscar winning film director in order to extract first money and favours, then later adopts the persona completely in order to prop up his fragile ego.

Written and directed by David Byrne and inspired by the same events as the John Malkovich film Colour Me Kubrick, though principally embodied by Ed Cobbold, Conway himself is an ensemble, his voice and life and those he has encountered – and inevitably disappointed and betrayed – fractured across the multiple performers. Only his son, trying to piece together a true picture of his father’s life from the documents he uncovers following his death, is a single actor, Andy McLeod playing the thankless role of the uncomfortable straight man caught in the whirlwind of deceit, obfuscations and punchlines that surround him, confined to a single reality.

Verging on pantomime at times, the cast are enthusiastic rather than subtle, and with less than an hour the story unfolds frenetically, and it is to the credit of the performers that the dialogue flows between them at breakneck pace flawlessly, dropping in and out of multiple characters and locations with minimal props on a largely bare stage.

2013_part_2_kubrick 3 stageThe single unit which acts as projection screen, doorway and divider trundling back and forth is a necessary evil, facilitating much of the action but unfortunately masking some of the early expositionary dialogue, important as this is when the recollections of the many real victims of Conway’s deceptions are heard. Curiously, while the minimal setting does not lend itself to recreations of Kubrick’s elaborate films, the easy connection of that prop to the Monolith of 2001 is not utilised.

Pleasingly Pythonesque in character, delivery and the wilful disregard of the fourth wall, what is most remarkable is the willingness to believe of all those involved. Conway, a lifelong fantasist and career criminal, had no more than passing knowledge of the works of Kubrick, and more importantly, bore absolutely no physical resemblance to the director. While famously reclusive, he was nevertheless equally famously distinctive, certainly to New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich, who only discovered his exclusive interview was fraudulent when fact checking with Warner Brothers.

Perhaps proving that the need to connect to someone more successful outweighs the burden of credulity, the final irony is that while Conway has finally found the audience he craved during life, he is still doing it under the name of another.

Kubrick 3 runs until Monday 26th August at Pleasance Two




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