The Coronavirus pandemic may have closed the doors to theatres across the UK but we still have great memories of fantastic productions that have taken to the stage in recent years… In a new series looking back on productions that have tread the boards in recent years, Andy Howells checks out five biographical one-man performances.
One-man performances are always a tall order. To hold one person’s attention for 10 minutes is an achievement in itself, but an actor on the stage has to not only become the total embodiment of a role (or in some cases several roles) but also carry the audience with them on a journey.
I’ve been fortunate to witness several one-man performances over the years. Here, I’ve deliberately selected five biographical productions where the subject matter were real-life characters and I particularly felt transported the audience to the subject matter.
The Riverfront, Newport, September 2009
Josh Richards as Richard Burton
“There are few props needed as Richards delivers the monologue, the contents of a vodka bottle consumed during the performance serve as a ticking time bomb to Burton’s sad decline.”
Call Mr Robeson
Tayo Aluko as Paul Robeson
The Riverfront, September 2011
On completion of Jericho the audience were so awestruck the performer was greeted with silence. “If anyone feels like applauding I will not be put off”, he jokingly stated to which he received a rapturous applause.
Bob Golding as Eric Morecambe
New Theatre, Cardiff, September 2010
“Golding’s seemingly limitless energy during this one-man performance is nothing short of brilliant. He effortlessly switches interpretations of other notable figures in Morecambe’s life including his mother Sadie, impresario Jack Hylton and comic partner Ernie Wise (via a ventriloquist dummy).”
Ewan Wardrop as George Formby
The Riverfront, Newport, May 2014
“From the very young to the most senior in years, the show raised smiles from the offset as actor/ dancer/ comedian Ewan Wardrop delivered a charismatically choreographed one-man show performance of Formby’s life and times.”
Gareth J Bale as Ray Gravell
The Riverfront, March 2019
“From carefree beginnings, rolling around in thick Ammanford mud to crashing into the New Zealand All Blacks like the shifting sands of Cardigan Bay, Grav is as poetic as it is biographical.”