Presented by HiLo Productions
By Gail Louw
Directed by John Burrows
Performed by Andrew Wheaton
28th – 29th April
The story of a 20th century dad, his son & Brahms
Anton does his best but it’s a heartless and tough world out there – what with the Nazis, internment, a loveless marriage and a son he can’t communicate with. Being Brahms is a much better option, a world of soothing lullabies and the lovely Clara Schulmann to drool over, a world where everything seems so much clearer.
Multi award winning playwright Gail Louw blends a universal, heartfelt story about fathers and sons with the wondrous music of Johannes Brahms in this new one-man drama.
Gail Louw has her plays performed throughout the world: Duwayne, (Best New Play at Brighton Fringe), Blonde Poison (Argus Angel, Best of the Fest – San Francisco, South Africa and Sydney Opera House). Miss Dietrich Regrets (Naledi Award). And this is my friend Mr Laurel, with Jeffrey Holland (Edinburgh and tour), Two Sisters (Los Angeles and UK). Most recently is sell out UK tour of The Mitfords. Oberon have published two collections of Gail’s plays.
Once described by The Stage as an actor of all parts, Andrew Wheaton has played everything from a dead body in a comedy thriller to multi-role ensemble work, and major roles in productions as diverse as Shakespeare and musicals in the West End and New York.
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Reviews from Rialto Theatre, Brighton, 12th & 13th April 2018
Brighton & Hove Independent
Being Brahms, local playwright Gail Louw’s latest, was on at the delectable Rialto.
After her sell-out Mitfords, this was a must-see.
I do like a set. This one was busy – single bed, gas fire, mirror, chair, a strip of wallpaper that became a metaphor for the protagonist’s life and mind: wildly askew.
From the start, observing the protagonist’s struggle to get up, Andrew Wheaton’s performance (he’s actually very spry!) was riveting. We were aghast flies on the wall as Anton’s old limbs stirred, as he fumbled on his dreadful slippers, stood, in an appalling long johns outfit. Peed!
A key prop is the eponymous coat. In it, Anton undergoes some change. The coat soothes him, not only through Brahms’ music (his mum loved it) but also because the composer was a kindly gent.
But he is not Brahms.
Wheaton, known as ‘an actor of all parts’, plays only Anton. It is a soliloquy. The temptation must be to ‘trans’ into the different personae as he converses with Brahms and Clara – his escape routes; with his family – his review of a life. But Anton wants to be real – to offer up the dark side of his father/son cycle of violence. He wants to stop it. To do one good thing.
The soliloquy was dramatically enlivened (beating with the heavy blanket, for example, as Anton relived punishments suffered and perpetrated) and expressive (debonair moments with Brahms, the awkwardness of negotiating with his estranged wife and son) – developed into gripping performance by director John Burrows with Wheaton.
The audience was being Anton, muddling through his repentance.
‘I love the creative act of inhabiting another life,’ Gail says; with her, we step into Anton’s shoes.
It was a challenge. Some – there was a lively Q&A session afterwards – were distressed to feel ‘confused’ very often: Anton, Brahms, time-switches….. We are not used to observing the switchback ride a mind travels – as the current debate about mental health shows.
A HiLo production is not a quick buzz; it’s a play that remains with you.
But I’m looking forward to another brain workout already: Larkin Descending, at the Rialto May 12/13th. That poet solved my parent problem way back!
Dip into Gail’s website, www.gail-louw.com, for her work and tweets. She is another Force.
I was completely enthralled by both the pros and the Actor .Both were brilliant . For 3 days I couldn’t get it out of my head .
For anyone with a smidge of understanding of personality disorder ‘ this captivated it perfectly .
It was challenging and thought provoking . Everything a good play should be . What a refreshing change !