"Robert Lindsay is utterly compelling"
by Jill Lawrie on 07/11/19

“Prism” is dramatist Terry Johnson’s first full-length play for a decade and was written with Robert Lindsay in mind to play the central figure Jack Cardiff. Following a sold-out run at London’s Hampstead Theatre the production is now touring the UK to rave reviews.

A poignant play that celebrates the legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff whose rainbow lens made women beautiful through his fascination for ‘painting with light’. Sadly, now with his great career behind him he is left with dementia muddled memories. His grasp of reality is fragmented as more and more he slips back into the past reliving his theatrical moments and seeing his wife as Katharine Hepburn and his young carer as either a barmaid or Marilyn Monroe!

Designer Tim Shortall has excelled with his chalet style set and garage door that opens up with the writing retreat Cardiff’s son Mason has set up for his father in the hope of capturing his memories before they have faded beyond recall. The walls are embellished with Cardiff’s glamorous photos of Hollywood film stars and the stage is furnished with filmset memorabilia and a giant technicolour camera minus its prism to prompt his recollections. Some hugely effective video footage too is shown to recapture the location for “The African Queen”. Terry Johnson also directs this talented cast of just four who movingly recreate the sad demise of Cardiff’s mind and failing eyesight.
Tara Fitzgerald has the role of Cardiff’s second younger wife Nicola and admirably portrays her sadness as she watches her husband’s confusion take over the man she loves. Mason is played by Oliver Hembrough whose genuine wish is for his father’s achievements to be remembered and preserved, employing a young carer in the hope she can get his thoughts down on paper before it is too late. Victoria Blunt excels as the inexperienced but enthusiastic young carer Lucy, winning the family members over as her fondness for Jack grows.

Robert Lindsay is outstanding as the engaging Jack Cardiff. Clearly a genius with his passion for light and fear of darkness but also a “ladies man” as he recalls his seductions over the years. Lindsay is barely off stage and his astutely observed emotions inhabit the character to perfection. A masterful performance of the man who created fantasy and said “life is temporary – film is forever”.

An excellent and powerful new play where visions of the past and present collide.

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