Theatre Review - Harry Clarke

Billy Crudup in Harry Clarke [Carol Rosegg]

BILLY Crudup makes his London theatre debut playing Philip Brugglestein, an awkward Midwestern man, and impersonating several other characters. When he moves to New York City, Philip adopts a persona, and manages to ingratiate himself with a wealthy family.

He had first assumed an English alter-ego to escape the jibes of his homophobic father.

It was for his own self-preservation, offering him an escape from a depressing childhood. As an adult, it transforms his life.

Bored in Manhattan one day, Philip spontaneously adopts the character of wide-boy Londoner, Harry Clarke, and decides to stalk a rich stranger Mark Schmidt. When they finally talk, Harry claims to work for the singer Sade.

He manages to charm Mark, attends a weekend on the family yacht and is soon involved in sexual liaisons with his host and later, his mother and sister.

Directed with a light touch by Leigh Silverman, Crudup delivers his monologue on an almost bare stage. He has to conjure the settings as well as his characters, aided by Alan C. Edwards’ evocative lighting.

David Cale’s 2017 one-man play originated in the US and will inevitably invite comparisons with The Talented Mr. Ripley and Saltburn. It’s slightly more predictable fare.

Crudup’s London accent occasionally wobbles – sounding Australian at one point – although this may have been deliberate. His impersonations of the American characters are spot on and he quickly draws us into the story.

However, with top seats priced at £195 each, one can’t help comparing Harry Clarke, to other nearby productions. Blue, for instance, (within spitting distance) offers equally committed performances for a fraction of the cost.

Until May 11

Originally published by Camden New Journal