21 February, 2013


My Perfect Mind had its first performance in Plymouth on 14 February where it was warmly received and is already attracting golden reviews. Here are some excerpts:

Photo by Manuel Harlan
In turn funny, poignant, autobiographical and inventive, King Lear’s demons are unleashed and entwined with the actor Edward Petherbridge’s recovery from a major stroke. … In this two-hander the dramatic and comic potential in telling such a tale makes intriguing and entertaining theatre. Petherbridge plays himself as the consummate, classical actor - as much a suave performer off stage as he is in character, his modulated voice honed to perfection in this self-depiction. In the guise of Lear, Petherbridge is both fragile and volatile – a great actor feeling at home in a great part. As himself rehearsing or in other company he sustains an aura of professional vanity as if life itself is a performance. … This is a quirky, absorbing portrayal of a shattering event in one man’s life, his celebrity and survival. The Stage (Read full review)

Petherbridge clearly has fun playing himself straight and at his theatrical best. The straight Petherbridge can be both tragic and endearing. Memories of his childhood moments of fame and disappointments are told with great humour and honesty. The tragic story of his mother’s own stroke two days before Edward was born is told with great dignity and compassion. It is when the story moves on to Petherbridge’s theatrical life that the production is at its most humourous but also most devastating. The Public Reviews (Read full review)

Photo by Manuel Harlan
Petherbridge plays the consummate classical actor with aplomb, and Hunter is mesmerizing … My Perfect Mind manages to be both poignant and honest about ageing and illness, and the precarious nature of recovery. Alongside the withering put-downs and suave delivery, Petherbridge tips convincingly into fragile vulnerability, the tension created by dropped lines magnified by the raked stage and the open trapdoor – the ever-present danger of being pitched into the abyss. The recreation of the storm scene – a mix of Shakespeare’s text and Petherbridge’s treatment – evokes the blasted mental landscape post-stroke, with its loss and grief, fury and frustration. … It is the recreations of the actor’s childhood and family that resonate most poignantly. In particular, scenes in which Hunter plays Petherbridge’s mother – who suffered a stroke two days before the actor was born, and went on to walk again despite medical assurances that she never would – are touching in their revelatory intimacy, and perhaps hint at a source of his resolve. … It’s moments like this that make the piece sing, coupled with its inspiring depiction of recovery and its hugely appealing portrayal of a genuinely warm and creative collaboration. Exeunt Magazine (Read full review)

My Perfect Mind is a highly entertaining and absorbing portrayal of one man’s journey from the back streets of Bradford through the jaws of immobility to today. With not a hint of smugness or self-pity, suave, softly-spoken long-time luvvie Edward Petherbridge (RSC, the original Guildernstern in Rosencrantz and Guildernstern Are Dead, BBC’s Lord Peter Wimsey and many many more) tells a compelling tale of family life, burgeoning career, devastating illness and recovery all wrapped up in the broiling, brooding madness of Shakespeare’s King Lear. … This is so enjoyable I’m going back next week – intrigued to see how much is actually ad-libbed and how much carefully scripted. Whatsonstage (Read full review)

Paul Hunter and Edward Petherbridge in My Perfect Mind.
Photo by Manuel Harlan

The show continues in Plymouth until 2 March, before heading to Liverpool, Salisbury and London's Young Vic.

More reviews and photos will be posted in due course.