[20060042] Three Furies

Three Furies: Scenes from the Life of Francis Bacon

@ Dunstan Playhouse

5:00pm, Sun 5 Mar 2006

Score: 8

Although the cast list nominates the characters as “The Painter” and “The Model”, Three Furies is quite clearly a portrayal of Francis Bacon and his oft-painted model/lover, George. Bacon is portrayed as a headstrong and abrasive character, though internally conflicted by his feelings for George – oscillating between the desperate search for solace in another, and need to distance himself from one of lower standing. Despite this, Bacon comes through as essentially likable – certainly more so than the needy and greedy George, anyway.

Simon Burke is superb as Bacon, delivering the perfect blend of uppity and tenderness. Socratis Otto’s George, on a desperate search for validation, to become someone new and interesting, is suitable whiny in a cockney way. They are both upstaged, however, by Paul Capsis – appearing onstage to provide commentary by way of cabaret-style torch songs. He was, quite simply, superb, imbuing the production with the feelings that the characters couldn’t publicly display.

Despite the persistent rattling that permeated the theatre (from the air-conditioning unit?), the overall feel to Three Furies was that of an extremely lavish, though somewhat muted, production. The simple set – three doors in the back wall, a ladder, a bed, and the odd animal carcass – was accompanied by an extravagant chandelier. Actors wore headset mikes for the performance, but often stepped forward to acquire a handheld mike, delivering soliloquies in the manner of a spoken word performance. After Bacon’s most heartfelt pleas to George – “you’re a doorway, a portal for my vision” – the final scene, with George lying naked and dead in one of the doorways, blood creeping out over the stage, was beautifully restrained, haunting.

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that I knew nothing of Bacon’s life (or work) before walking into this performance, so there was no opportunity for any kind of more personal connection to the characters for me. But this was still fantastic theatre – a real credit to the Festival.

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