27 June, 2015


Petherbridge, lean of limb and blessed with a speaking voice that ranges over countless octaves, has a supremely light touch, muttering his wisecracks as if apologizing for their caustic content, corralling the most oddball comment until it gets the laugh it deserves. Staring at the perilously slanted stage, he says, “We were promised a level playing field tonight.” Covering the upstage wall with sketches of Lear’s daughter, which he then douses with paint, he dismisses the whole business, saying, “It looks like a bad day at MoMA.” When the scene with Lear on the blasted heath arrives, he is perfectly capable of slipping into a bit of “Stormy Weather.” And, when one isn’t looking, he launches into Shakespeare’s verse with an authority and clarity that leaves one stunned. LIGHTING AND SOUND AMERICA (Read full review)

Petherbridge seems to have lost nothing of his acuity or charisma, only the chance to play Shakespeare’s most famous king.  That is a disappointment that My Perfect Mind seeks to remedy, offering Petherbridge snippets at least of that great role, principally Lear preparing to banish Cordelia and being reunited with her before his death. In these moments, even as unexpected and ephemeral as they are, Petherbridge glows as an actor of immense depth, intelligence and sensitivity. … My Perfect Mind is a perfect diamond in the rough, an opportunity to see one of Britain’s greatest living actors in a mesmerizing, funny, whip-smart and thoroughly human performance, a meditation on life and acting … To quote Robert Frost, “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected.” My Perfect Mind is a tribute to the long, glowing afternoon of Edward Petherbridge. EXEUNT MAGAZINE (Read full review)

The theatrical “fourth wall” is expanded and collapsed as easily as a gentleman’s umbrella as the two seasoned performers meditate on the nature of theater itself. These quirky encounters are accompanied by generous helpings of the Bard, and Petherbridge fuels his Lear with a musicality and psychological spontaneity that illuminates the potency and evergreen relevance of Shakespeare’s poetry. ETHAN KANFER: NEW YORK THEATER REVIEWS (Read full review)

22 June, 2015


My Perfect Mind has opened in Manhattan to a feast of a golden reviews. Here is a selection:

Mr. Petherbridge [assumes] the role of Lear with a truly affecting air of embattled vulnerability. At other moments, he is simply Mr. Petherbridge, a renowned performer with all of a first-rate actor’s vanity (we get to hear a lot about famous plays and famous people) and sensitivity. … Every performance is, in a sense, a fight against limitations. In “My Perfect Mind,” Mr. Petherbridge — who is just about to turn 79 and shows little evidence of the strokes that once felled him — does what actors have always done, turning handicaps into weapons to conquer an audience. NEW YORK TIMES (Read full review)

The players’ remarkable talent and mastery of craft make everything they do feel effortless, almost casual, immediate, spontaneous and personal. The fun they are having acting and play-acting, conjuring up different characters—such as Petherbridge’s parents, a New Zealand cab driver, Lawrence Olivier, Kenneth Branagh—is infectious. Even the bits that might seem a touch corny on paper—such as a pun about a level playing field in reference to the raked rostrum—the performers’ commitment and Ms. Hunter’s sharp, organic direction, turn into living moments one can take joy in unapologetically. STAGE AND CINEMA (Read full review)

59E59 Theaters, New York City.
Photo by Kathleen Riley

My Perfect Mind has not a whiff of pathos and bears no resemblance to those turgid my-road-to-recovery stories that litter TV screens. In fact, the story it tells is not linear, but rather kaleidoscopic as it jumps forward and back in time and slips back and forth between fact and fantasy with ease and √©lan. And it is a wonder and a delight to behold. … An actor’s life, be he a stroke victim or no, is a perilous one and it so very easy to lose one’s footing. But when the actor is Edward Petherbridge — who tells us he’s seventy-eight and “I’ll be seventy-nine in August” — it simply does not apply. He is charm and grace personified. Like another great Shakespearean character, age cannot wither him, nor custom stale his infinite variety. NY THEATRE GUIDE (Read full review)

Witty, wild, wonderful and thoroughly entertaining … You realize when you first enter the theater that something unique is being staged. The set is tilted, a sign that My Perfect Mind has a real zany side. Yet this is a comedy with serious undertones. … Petherbridge and Hunter master their roles. My Perfect Mind is a fast moving play and the two men work seamlessly to create an interplay that is so realistic that it seems spontaneous. Petherbridge as Edward deftly clings to the classic role of Lear while Hunter dazzles with his brisk character transitions. You never know who he will be next or what he will do. Amusing moments abound such as when he repeatedly slides downward on his belly onstage or pads his clothes and becomes Edward's pregnant mother. While there are moments of complete absurdity, My Perfect Mind is also a thoughtful, poignant story that you will remember long after Petherbridge and Hunter take their final bows. BROADWAY WORLD (Read full review)

Petherbridge’s extraordinary performance in this one-act two-hander is reason enough to flock to the theater, but the autobiographical nature of the story, together with a ridiculously funny performance by his costar, Paul Hunter, adds a fascinating dimension to this quite literally off-kilter story about Shakespeare, the craft of theater, and the regenerative power of the human mind. … Petherbridge adroitly brings that sort of improvisational quality to the show, with recitations of Lear delivered so naturally he seems to make them up on the fly. It’s one of the charms of this fragmented, hilarious, strangely lucid memory play about an actor performing a play about performing another play in his mind for a real (or imaginary) audience. With all its twists, turns, and contortions, My Perfect Mind is a delightfully entertaining brainteaser. THEATER MANIA (Read full review)

The set.
Photo by Kathleen Riley

Their performance gives us a new appreciation of the capabilities of the mind, its resilience and fragility, its beauty and mystery. Petherbridge’s performance is an uplifting affirmation that life is an adventure and we must continue to be engaged and enthusiastic about all it throws at us, especially when adversity comes knocking and what we most fear threatens to come upon us. Truly, Petherbridge has topped his former career endeavors with his role in My Perfect Mind. BLOG CRITICS (Read full review)

Esteemed actors Edward Petherbridge and Paul Hunter blow the roof off the house with their whirlwind of talent and humor. … It is no wonder that [Petherbridge’s] credits are so prestigious, considering that he uses his mind, body, and voice with such clarity and ease that he clearly read these tools’ instruction manual cover to cover. THEATRE IS EASY (Read full review)

Lear self-portrait by Edward Petherbridge.
Photo by Kathleen Riley

These scenes are performed with such eloquence that even if you’ve forsworn seeing yet another production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, you will happily stand in line for tickets should Mr. Petherbridge take on the role in earnest. But for now, there is this joyous marvel of a work. The Inca lament for the dead sun god Atahualpa alone is worth the price of admission. TALKIN BROADWAY (Read full review)

My Perfect Mind gets its zing from its insouciant attitude to Petherbridge's stroke; it gets its literary scope from frequent flights into Shakespeare's play, the text itself an antidote to frailty. It's that rare thing, a play about the terrors to come that somehow operates on a wholly delightful level. Like Lear's own Fool, it makes us laugh at the storm. TIME OUT (Read full review)

12 March, 2015


Photo by Hugo Glendinning
We are delighted to announce officially that, after two triumphant London seasons, national tours and performances in Barcelona, My Perfect Mind will be heading to New York this summer. The show has been invited to the annual Brits off Broadway Festival at 59E59 Theaters, ‘the number one off-Broadway destination in New York City’. The show will run in Theater A for three weeks from 10th to 28th June. Tickets are on general sale from today. BOOK NOW.
This extraordinary story seems like the invention of a daring playwright. Only it happens to be true. It is told by actors – only this time the pivotal role is played by the unique real-life person who lived and survived this terrible ordeal. To blend the real and the invented into one whole, that at every moment rings true, is an impossible challenge. Edward Petherbridge, Paul Hunter and Kathryn Hunter, their director, have made it alive, very funny and heart-wrenching. PETER BROOK
This show about not playing King Lear is a unique treat: a wondrous mosaic of a great actor’s self-analysis, his talents for vaudeville and tragedy, his wisdom and his passion. En route, he illuminates Shakespeare and as in all the best theatre, leaves us moved, shifted into a world we could not have imagined unless he had led us there. IAN MCKELLEN
Edward as the Fool for the Actors’ Company
It is just over forty years since Edward made his New York debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1974, playing the Fool in King Lear for the Actors’ Company which he co-founded with Ian McKellen. Edith Oliver of the New Yorker declared: ‘Edward Petherbridge’s heartbroken, quicksilver fool … is the Fool forever; the part IS permanently his.’ In the 1980s, he appeared in two epic productions on Broadway: as Newman Noggs in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s landmark Nicholas Nickleby and as Charlie Marsden in Eugene O’Neill’s experimental Strange Interlude. Both performances earned him Tony Award nominations and the latter a Drama Desk Award nomination. He has also brought to New York two of his own productions, the first of them his vaudeville adaptation of R. D. Laing’s Knots. Now Edward returns to New York with an inspired masterpiece that showcases, as the Telegraph noted last autumn in its five-star review, the ‘tremendous sense of majesty that makes him a magnetic stage presence’.

Watch a ten-minute FT Arts featurette about My Perfect Mind.

15 February, 2015


A 5-Star review for Slim Chances by screenwriter and crime novelist Douglas Watkinson:

This is a fascinating account of his life by one of our most accomplished actors. Beautifully written, it is full of detail, making it a book you can dip into at any point and, without being patronising, there’s an intellect at work here giving insights into some of the world’s best loved plays.

15 January, 2015


Good news for Wimsey fans in the UK: the Dorothy L. Sayers Mysteries, starring Edward as Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Walter as Harriet Vane, are currently being repeated on Drama, 8pm each Thursday.

AND the DVDs of the series (PAL, Region 2) are once again available from Amazon UK. These are the discs that include an exclusive interview with Edward among the special features. Watch below an excerpt from the interview, recorded in 2002.